GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Spartan Stores here posted its first quarterly loss as a public company last week, citing competition, poor operating and merchandising execution in its Ohio stores, the weak economy and the unusually warm winter in Michigan.
For the 12-week fourth quarter ended March 30, the company reported a loss of $5 million, vs. profits of $3.4 million in the year-ago period. Net sales were $764.8 million, down 11.7% from sales of $865.6 million in the year-ago period, which included one extra week. Adjusting for this year's early Easter and the effect of the extra week in last year's quarter, same-store sales fell 6.6% in the most recent quarter, the company said.
For the full year, Spartan posted profits of $9.8 million, vs. profits of $23.4 million in the preceding year, which included one extra week. Sales for the year were down slightly, to $3.5 billion from $3.51 billion a year ago.
In a conference call last week, James B. Meyer, chairman, president and chief executive, said the company was implementing several steps to improve its operations in Ohio, including installing new management and making changes in perishables procurement, point-of-sale systems and marketing strategies.
He said the company expects same-store sales to be negative in the mid-single digits in the first quarter of fiscal 2003, with improvements expected by the end of the year.
Meyer said the company would refrain from "aggressively" pursuing acquisitions while it concentrated on improving its operations.
"Given the challenges in our current business, our primary focus is that we get our operations back to the level of profitability that we need to have," he said.