CHARLOTTE — Fourth-quarter comparable-store sales rose 5% at Harris Teeter, the chain's parent company reported Thursday, but margins came under pressure from increased promotional activity.
Gross margins declined 59 basis points for the 13-week quarter, which ended Oct. 2, compared with the 14-week quarter of a year ago.
Operating profit at Harris Teeter was $45 million, down from $49.1 million, which the company attributed primarily to the extra week in the year-ago period. Sales were down slightly to $1.1 billion, vs. $1.11 billion a year ago.
Sales for the 52 weeks of fiscal 2011 increased by 4.5% to $4.29 billion, vs. the 53-week fiscal 2010, and operating profit for Harris Teeter increased 5.2% to $191.1 million for the year.
"Our goal for the quarter and the year was to drive units and transactions. Therefore, we invested in additional promotional activities which included two promotional coupon events that were well received by our customers and were redeemed at higher than historical trends," the company said in a prepared release.
Ruddick Corp. parent of the Harris Teeter chain, posted a loss of $8.9 million for the fourth fiscal quarter following impairment charges related to pending sale of the company's industrial-thread subsidiary.