GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Fresh Market here said sales and earnings for its fiscal third quarter came in below expectations, and it reduced its guidance for the year.

For the 13-week quarter, which ended Oct. 27, net income at the upscale food retailers was $11.1 million, up about 1.8%, while sales grew 13.4%, to $364.5 million. Comparable-store sales increased 3.1%.


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The Fresh Market said it experienced an unanticipated sales slowdown across its store base at the end of the quarter, which it attributed to “changing economic conditions and softening consumer confidence.” Sales from stores in new markets were “mixed,” the company said.

For the fiscal year, the company now expects diluted earnings per share to be $1.42 to $1.47, with comps up 3% to 3.5%

“Our base business continues to perform well, although we experienced increasingly challenging economic conditions as the quarter progressed,” said Craig Carlock, president and chief executive officer. “Even under these conditions, comparable-store sales growth exceeded 3% this quarter, and gross margin continued to expand.”

He said the company opened 10 new stores in seven states in the quarter.

“Entering the final quarter of the year, I believe we are well-positioned to deliver store unit growth in excess of 17% and open a record 22 new stores this fiscal year,” Carlock added.

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