LOS ANGELES -- Smart & Final here said last week that despite increasing expenses net earnings rose 86.3% to $4.1 million in the 16-week third quarter ended Oct. 8.
growth also caused performance-based incentive pay to increase $1.1 million in the quarter, $3 million year-to-date. Consulting fees, related to improving produce procurement, were up $1.3 million in the first three quarters.
However, the company noted that the increase in marketing expense supported the company's recent strong sales growth. Store sales grew 7.5% to $468.9 million in the quarter, and comparable-store sales rose 7.3%. In the first three quarters, store sales increased 6.3% to $1.12 billion, and comparable-store sales rose 5.9%.
In the company's food service distribution, however, sales declined 1.2% to $118.5 million in the quarter and fell 3% to $309.3 million year-to-date.
Total company sales rose 5.7% to $587.3 million in the quarter and increased 4.1% to $1.43 billion for the first three quarters. Net income for the first three quarters was up 154.8% to $7.9 million.
The company attributed the income rise to increased sales and improved gross margin rates. The company said its new national procurement and expanded corporate brand programs were major factors in the margin improvements.
Ross Roeder, Smart & Final chairman and chief executive officer, said, "We're very pleased with our continuing progress. Same store sales growth of more than 7% is the successful result of aggressive marketing, a revitalized assortment, improved merchandising and a focus on excellent in-store service.
"The turnaround activities continue in our food service distribution operations. We have streamlined and re-energized our Florida unit, where operations are now much more efficient."