CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A 5.33% increase in comparable-store sales for the third quarter helped Harris Teeter here post a 26.9% gain in operating profit for the period, to $39.9 million, compared with year-ago results. Sales for the 13-week quarter, which ended July 1, rose 12.9%, to $836.4 million, which also reflected results from 12 new stores opened during the first nine months of the fiscal year. Parent company Ruddick Corp., which also operates the American and Efird thread business, said cost controls and efficiencies helped offset part of the incremental costs associated with an accelerated store-opening plan. Through three quarters, operating profit at Harris Teeter rose 16.5%, to $113.5 million, on a sales gain of 12.3%, to $2.17 billion. Comps rose 4.51% for the 39-week period. The chain plans seven more new stores in the fourth quarter.
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