AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market here said yesterday it plans to reduce the number of new stores in fiscal 2009 to approximately 15 — compared with an estimate of 25 to 30 the company mentioned in a May conference call — and cut all discretionary capital spending budgets not related to new stores by 50% as part of a more conservative approach to its growth and business strategy over the short term. "[But] we remain very bullish on our growth prospects," John Mackey, chairman and chief executive officer, said. Whole Foods has already implemented certain cost-containment measures for the balance of this year, he added, and he said he expects general and administrative expenses of approximately 3.2% of sales next year. The company is also suspending its quarterly cash dividend for the foreseeable future, Mackey noted. For the 12-week third quarter that ended July 6, the company said net income fell 30.9% to $33.9 million, while sales rose 21.6% to $1.8 billion. Net income fell 24.1% to $113 million for the year to date, on revenue growth of 27.2% to $6.2 billion for the 40-week period. Comparable-store sales were up 2.6% for the quarter and 6.4% for the year to date. The company said net income for the quarter was negatively impacted by the integration of the Wild Oats stores.
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