CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ruddick Corp. here said the divestiture of 26 Harris Teeter stores resulted in lower sales for the first quarter ended Dec. 30.
in Georgia and South Carolina that were divested in July and a 1.1% decline in comparable-store sales. Those declines were partially offset by five store openings, the company pointed out.
Ruddick said the drop in comps was due to warm weather in the Southeast and the increased sluggishness in the economy.
Operating profit at Harris Teeter rose 25.4% to $20.6 million, or 3.5% of sales, compared with 2.6% a year ago.
Thomas W. Dickson, president of Ruddick, said improvements in operating profits were the result of reducing waste and improving efficiencies. "We also believe the results for the quarter continue to demonstrate the positive impact of the strategic sale of the 26 stores in noncore markets.
"We continue to concentrate on our core markets, which we believe have a greater potential for enhanced return on investment over the long term."
Sales for Ruddick fell 9% to $653.2 million for the quarter, which the company attributed to the sale of 26 Harris Teeter stores, lower same-store sales and weak business conditions at American & Efird, the company's textile subsidiary.