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Fresh Market maintains growth trajectory

Rapidly growing food retailer The Fresh Market experienced a bit of a hiccup with its third quarter results, but president and CEO Craig Carlock contends the company’s long term vision remains intact.

Sales at the 128 unit retailer increased 22.1% to $321.5 million and profits increased 19% to $10.9 million, but analysts were looking for stronger profits and lower expenses. Some also believed the company’s relatively young store base should have produced a same store sales increase stronger than the 5.6% figure the company reported.

Carlock defended the performance and maintained a 5.6% comp was a solid increase considering same store sales grew by a similar amount during the third quarter the prior year.

"Our comparable store sales grew 5.6%, and importantly, customer transactions grew nicely even as we cycled on solid transaction growth during last year's third quarter," Carlock said. "Additionally, during the quarter, we opened six new stores, including our first California store. Subsequent to quarter-end, we entered into four leases for new stores in Houston, Texas that we expect to open in the latter half of fiscal 2013. Our store openings in Houston will mark our entrance into Texas, just as our store opening this quarter in the Sacramento area marked our entrance into California."

Entry in California and Texas give the company a toehold in the nation’s two most populous as well as intensely competitive grocery markets. Nevertheless, Carlock said the company was enthusiastic about the consistency of its business and the portability it concept while reaffirming a long term commitment to growing at a 15% annual rate.

 

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