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Supermarket operator Penn Traffic Co. notes improved fiscal-year results

BY Alaric DeArment

SYRACUSE, N.Y. Supermarket operator The Penn Traffic Co. announced in a fourth-quarter and 12 months of fiscal 2009 earnings statement that it had “substantially” improved its balance sheet.

The company, which owns and operates the P&C, Quality and BiLo supermarket chains in the Northeast, said revenues from continuing operations were $872.3 million in fiscal 2009, compared with $896 million the year before, reflecting a reduction in the number of stores it owns. The company closed several stores and sold its wholesale business in December and January as part of a divestiture program. It said the lower revenues also reflected lower volume and traffic trends that have affected much of the grocery industry.

Losses from continuing operations in fiscal 2009 were $34.1 million, or $4.04 per share, compared with $29.2 million, or $3.45 per share, the year before. The company said that excluding higher tax expense for fiscal 2009, year-over-year loss from continuing operations was “essentially flat.”

Gross profit in was $267 million, or 30.6% of revenues, compared to $278.8 million, or 31.1% of revenues, the year before.

“We closed fiscal 2009 with a substantially improved balance sheet and a cost structure more closely aligned with what our business requires to deliver value to our customers,” president and CEO Gregory Young said. “At the same time, we continue to make targeted investments to enhance our top-line performance.”

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Supervalu announces fiscal-year earnings

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS Supervalu on Thursday reported net sales of $44.6 billion and a net loss of $2.9 billion for its fiscal year ended Feb. 28, which included 53 weeks.

“As we enter fiscal 2010, we anticipate a challenging economic environment, but remain focused on executing the strategic initiatives that will drive sustainable long-term sales and earnings growth,” stated Supervalu chairman and CEO Jeff Noddle. “Our center-led merchandising and customer-centric marketing initiatives are on track, and our substantial remodel program has freshened our store base. Combined with improved customer service scores and our revamped and energized own brands program, we are better positioned to deliver an enhanced value message to consumers.”

Year-to-date net cash flows from operating activities were $1.5 billion, compared with $1.7 billion in the prior year, primarily reflecting the timing of tax payments. In fiscal 2009, the company completed 161 major remodels, 17 minor remodels, 14 new traditional stores and 25 new limited assortment corporate stores.

“Fiscal 2010 will be a year of further investment at Supervalu,” Noddle added. “We know that consumers are placing a greater emphasis on price, and we are taking the actions necessary to strengthen our overall competitive position. While these actions will have a short-term impact on profitability, they build a better value proposition for consumers in this economic environment and provide a foundation for future robust sales growth.”

Supervalu has projected that net sales across the 52-week fiscal 2010 will be approximately $43 billion with same-store sales falling between -1% and 1%.

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Pharmaca opens eco baby store

BY Michael Johnsen

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy on Friday opened its Sweet Pea Ecobaby Boutique within its Sunset Blvd. location, the company announced. The store features more than 1,000 sq.ft. of retail space with more than 400 baby products in response to growing customer demand.

The boutique features such brands as Melissa and Doug, PlanToys, Born Free, Little Twig and Nature Babycare. The store also has licensed practitioners like naturopathic doctors, nutritionists and herbalists available to provide guidance on anything from the best BPA-free bottle to the perfect natural remedy for colic.

“It was important for me to offer products that I would want to see in my own home,” stated Sindy Wise, Pharmaca’s lifestyle category manager. “Now I can go to Pharmaca to buy my daughter an educational eco-dollhouse (with a model wind turbine and solar panel!) or myself the latest hip and fashionable mommy accessory like baby slings.“

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