CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sales gains at the Harris Teeter chain drove a 27.6% increase in quarterly earnings for parent company Ruddick Corp. here, the company said Thursday. Sales at Harris Teeter improved 12.6% to $896.6 million in the fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 30, with comparable-store sales increasing by 4.4%. Harris Teeter officials in a statement attributed the rising sales to new store openings, successful execution of targeted promotions, and to superior customer service in stores. Earnings of $18.3 million, or 38 cents per share, were driven by improved profits at Harris Teeter, which operates 166 stores. Ruddick’s overall results include the American & Efird thread subsidiary, which saw its sales and profits decrease slightly during the quarter.
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