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Its 2Q Earnings Up, Marsh Bets on Innovative Formats for Future

INDIANAPOLIS - Regional chain Marsh Supermarkets, Inc. said yesterday it plans to continue rolling out new store formats to meet the needs of its specific markets, including launching its "Lifestyle" format in Chicago in fiscal 2006. The news came as Marsh announced its fourth consecutive quarter of comparable-period revenue increases and its fifth consecutive quarter of comparable-period improvement in net income.

For the second quarter ended Oct. 9, Marsh's total revenues were $524,892,000, compared with $510,769,000 for the second quarter of fiscal 2004. Net income increased to $1,304,000 for the latest quarter from $683,000 for the second quarter of fiscal 2004. Earnings per diluted share for the second quarter of fiscal 2005 were 16 cents, up from 9 cents for the second quarter of the last fiscal year.

"We achieved these results in an environment that continues to be characterized by an uncertain economy, substantial unemployment in our core markets, high commodities pricing for foods and fuel, and increasing competition," noted chairman and c.e.o. Don E. Marsh in a statement. "In response we are continuing our initiatives to drive sales and increase customer loyalty in our existing stores through customer service, selection, convenience, and price, as well as through store refreshing and remodeling programs. We are also further building on our history as an industry thought leader and innovator to design and build new stores formatted to meet the demographic characteristics of their specific markets."

During the second quarter, Marsh opened its first Arthur's Fresh Market store, a 21,000-square-foot format designed for markets that cannot be efficiently reached by the big-box competitors. The concept features high-quality perishables, as well as a full variety of grocery items. A second Arthur's is scheduled to open in the second half of fiscal 2005, Marsh said.

Don Marsh said the company continues to receive encouraging response to its new Lifestyle format, which, he said, "is revolutionary in its approach to increasing customer convenience." The format features expansive fresh sections and several specialty boutique shops designed around consumers' lifestyles and shopping patterns.

Two Lifestyle units opened in the second half of fiscal 2004, and a third is scheduled to open in Indianapolis in the second half of fiscal 2005.

In addition, Marsh said it expects to introduce the Lifestyle concept in Chicago with an opening in the beginning of fiscal 2006.

"Marsh has an extensive history of pioneering better ways to serve its customers, and we are confident these new concepts will successfully extend this record while strengthening our competitive position," the executive said.

"In addition to our initiatives for building revenues, we remain strongly focused on expense reduction, asset management, and cash flow. Partially as a result of this ongoing commitment, our second-quarter net income as a percentage of total revenues improved on a comparable-quarter basis for the fifth consecutive quarter," he noted.

Marsh operates 67 Marsh supermarkets, 39 LoBill Foods stores, 8 O'Malia Food Markets, 163 Village Pantry convenience stores, one Arthur's Fresh Market, and one Savin*$, in Indiana and western Ohio. The company also operates Crystal Food Services.
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