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Ingles Markets Grows Sales in Q4

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Regional supermarket chain Ingles Markets here yesterday reported a 6.4 percent increase in net sales and an impressive 6.1 percent increase in comparable store sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005. Meanwhile, income from operations increased 6.4 percent.

The retailer attributed its success to meeting customers' needs. "We could not be more pleased with our continued trend of solid sales growth and operating income improvements," said c.e.o. Robert P. Ingle in a statement. "Identifying and meeting our customers' needs continues to be our team's primary focus, and the numbers prove their success."

Ingles also posted positive sales growth for the fiscal year.

Net sales grew to $2.3 billion for the year, and $590.7 million for the last quarter, compared to $2.1 billion and $544.9 million, respectively. The company noted that it has achieved an increase in net sales each year in its 42-year history.

Ingles' net income, meanwhile, declined compared to both year-ago periods, which the company said was primarily due to the absence of real estate sales in fiscal 2005. Net income totaled $26.6 million for the fiscal year, and $9.4 million for the fourth quarter, compared to $28.8 million and $10.8 million for the corresponding fiscal 2004 periods.

Robert Ingle noted that he expects the underlying real estate value in the company to continue to grow and provide a sound base for our shareholders.

The company also said that while gross profit dollars increased 4.9 percent for fiscal 2005, gross profit as a percentage of sales declined to 25.6 percent for fiscal 2005, from 26.0 percent for fiscal 2004. This was due primarily to the effect of lower overall margins in the pharmacy and gasoline departments. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005, gross profit dollars increased 8.2 percent, while as a percentage of sales, gross profit declined to 26.2 percent for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 compared to 26.3 percent for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2004.
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