Unified Grocers, Los Angeles-based retailer-owned cooperative, said it is optimistic about the outlook for the rest of the fiscal year following positive earnings on increased sales for the first quarter.


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“It’s only one quarter, but I am very optimistic about the direction we are going,” Bob Ling, president and chief executive officer, said “The growth of our sales activity actually began in the second half of fiscal 2013, and we have a number of key initiatives that will help us continue to build our sales momentum and achieve our long-term objective of growing the business profitably.

“We continue to be diligent about expense control; we are working hard to increase the overall efficiency of our distribution network; and we are focused on delivering the best possible customer service to our members.”

Read more: Unified launches Hispanic marketing events

Net income for the 13-week quarter, which ended Dec. 28, was $2.8 million, compared with a loss of $87,000 a year earlier, though patronage dividends declined 5.8% to $2.4 million. Sales for the quarter rose 0.9% to $954.7 million, and gross billings increased 2.7% to $979.2 million.

According to Ling, “These significantly improved results, especially the growth in sales and earnings, are a validation of the actions we took last year to turn the business around.”

A company spokesman told SN those actions included a management restructuring that encompassed Ling’s promotion and additions to and promotions within the leadership team; a major refinancing that gave the company greater financial flexibility; and a warehouse consolidation that eliminated a leased facility in Fresno, Calif.

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