SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Schultz Sav-O Stores said net earnings increased 18.1% in fiscal 1997 to $7.6 million, compared with $6.5 million in 1996.
ncreased 4.2% to $473.0 million, compared with $453.9 million in the prior 52-week year. Adjusted for the extra week, sales increased 2.3%.
In the 13-week fourth quarter, net earnings increased 17.1% to $2.5 million, compared with $2.2 million in the 12-week fourth quarter last year. Sales in the quarter increased 8.8%, to $118.5 million, compared with $108.9 million in the year-ago quarter.
The company said net earnings for the fiscal year benefited from a combination of performance improvements in wholesale and retail operations due to improved gross margin, increased interest income from the short-term investment of cash and reduced operating expenses from the shutting of two underperforming corporate stores and other factors.
Sales benefited from increased wholesale volume resulting from the full implementation of the Piggly Wiggly Preferred Club frequent-shopper card program. Sales were negatively affected by the closing of the two underperforming stores and by the closing of one underperforming franchise unit. Shultz's stores also faced increased competitive activity in certain markets, the company said.