JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Identical-store sales at Winn-Dixie here were up in the weeks leading to the holiday season, but the retailer said last week that it continued operating at a loss.
In a monthly operating report filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court here, the retailer reported sales of $613 million for the period of Nov. 17 to Dec. 14. Overall sales were up 4% as compared with the prior monthly report, and identical-store sales, as compared with the same period in 2004, were "positive," Michael Freitag, a spokesman for Winn-Dixie, told SN. Freitag declined to specify how much comps had increased.
The retailer, operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, reported a loss of $2 million for the period - a figure assuaged by a $7.5 million gain from the sale of discontinued operations. Excluding discontinued operations, Winn-Dixie showed an operating loss of $14 million, and a loss from continuing operations, including taxes and reorganization items, of $10 million.
In the previous four-week period, covering Oct. 20 to Nov. 16, Winn-Dixie reported a profit of $39.8 million on sales of $587 million. That figure included reorganization expenses of $65 million, as compared with $4.8 million in the current period. Excluding discontinued items and reorganization costs, Winn-Dixie reported an operating loss of $26.4 million during the Oct. 20 to Nov. 16 period.
Gross margins improved slightly, from 24.2% of sales in the November period to 24.8% of sales in the December period, the company reported.
The U.S. Trustee reviewing whether to disband the official committee of equity holders in the Winn-Dixie case was expected to announce a decision "any day now," Freitag said late last week. Winn-Dixie's creditors committee, represented by bondholders, landlords and product vendors, has argued the equity committee should not exist.
Official committees will work on a plan of reorganization, and have expenses paid for by the estate.