CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Harris Teeter here attributed increases in operating profit and same-store sales for the first quarter ended Jan. 1 to improved performance in two problem markets.
The company announced a 9% net sales increase from $388 million to $424 million for the quarter. Same store sales were up 8.4%.
The retailer, a division of Ruddick Corp. here, showed more than $10 million in operating profit -- a 29% increase over the year-ago period of nearly $8 million. Ruddick attributed the favorable outcome to "improved sales volume and product mix," among other factors.
Ruddick Corp.'s consolidated sales reached more than $508 million, up 9% from $465 million. Net income increased 32% from $6.3 million to $8.3 million.
Harris Teeter was previously plagued by two problem divisions -- its Columbia, S.C. and Atlanta markets. Although a turn-around was reportedly not expected before the fall of 1995, the company credited "improved operations" in stores in both markets for its current first-quarter increase in operating profit.
Ken Gassman, a retail analyst with Davenport & Co., Richmond, Va., said the reason for Harris Teeter's boost is simply an upswing in the national economic outlook.
In the first quarter 1994, Harris Teeter chalked up its low operating profit to the poor performance of the five Bruno's stores the company had recently acquired in Columbia. Also to blame was start-up costs in the company's first Atlanta store.
Another Atlanta site is planned for the second quarter, as well as a new store opening in Charlotte, N.C., and a replacement store in Boone, N.C.