Weis Markets capped a transformative year with strong gains in sales and earnings during the fiscal fourth quarter.
The Sunbury, Pa.-based retailer said comparable-store sales, increased 3.4% in the quarter, which ended Dec. 31 — an impressive feat given deflationary challenges affecting many of its peers over a similar period. Weis may also have benefitted in comparison to peers whose quarterly reports included results from January, which many cited as a particularly slow month.
Weis cited price investments, disciplined sales promotions, an enhanced customer experience and improved supply chain efficiencies for gains in comps and earnings realized in the quarter and fiscal year. It also benefited from sales increases in pharmacy and fresh departments.
Sales for the fourth quarter totaled $925.1 million. Adjusted for the effect of a 14th week in the quarter, they increased by 17.6%, due to higher comps and by the addition of 44 stores acquired over the course of the year. Excluding a one-time gain of $23.9 million related to the acquisition of 38 Food Lion stores, the company’s non-GAAP net income increased 4.1% to $17.3 million.
“In 2016, we acquired and converted 44 stores in 96 days and generated more than $3 billion in sales for the first time in our 104-year history,” Jonathan Weis, chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “We continued to improve every aspect of our operations in 2016, including supply chain, merchandising and in-store experience, which resulted in a year of strong sales and earnings growth.”
Adjusting for the extra week in 2016, annual sales increased 6.9%to $3.1 billion while comparable store sales increased by 2.9%, Weis said. Excluding the one-time gain, net income of $63.3 million, was up by 6.7%.