Harris Teeter's Parent Acknowledges Competition at Annual Shareholders Meeting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Executives at Ruddick Corp., the parent company of supermarket chain Harris Teeter, acknowledged last week at their annual shareholders meeting that competitive pressures will make it hard to replicate the company's successful performance of 2004.

"Both Harris Teeter and American & Efird [the thread manufacturer owned by Ruddick] continue to face growing competition," said c.f.o. John Woodlief.

The company reported profits of $64.7 million on sales of $2.87 billion in fiscal 2004, and both divisions saw strong sales in the first quarter of this year. Sales in stores open at least a year rose nearly 3.8 percent at Harris Teeter in the fiscal first quarter compared with the same time last year -- a healthy measure by any retailer's account, and one of the largest quarterly increases in the Harris Teeter's recent memory.

In 2005 Harris Teeter will face new competition in its core markets, with players such as Food Lion renovating stores in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, and Whole Foods entering its turf in Charlotte.

Ruddick c.e.o. Tad Dickson was quoted in the Charlotte Observer newspaper as saying the company is "geared up for competition."

He said Harris Teeter plans to continue expanding the organic and natural food offerings in its stores.

Additionally, the company is expanding in the Washington, D.C. market. The Washington Post reported on Friday that Harris Teeter plans to open a 39,000-square-foot store in Northwest Washington next fall. The store will reportedly be built inside a former roller skating rink and will feature a coffee bar, sushi station, and wine consultant.

In total, Ruddick Corp. plans to open 11 stores and remodel 20 this year. It currently has 138 stores in six states.
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