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Marsh 3rd Qtr. Profits Up; CFO Set To Retire

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets, Inc. posted improved profits for the third quarter ended Jan. 1, but said its results were hampered by competition and higher commodity prices during the period.

Separately, Marsh said in a regulatory filing that s.v.p. and c.f.o. Douglas W. Dougherty will retire once a successor is named.

For the quarter, Marsh's income grew to $2.7 million, or 34 cents per share, from $2.3 million, or 29 cents during the period a year ago, while sales revenue rose 4 percent to $403.6 million, driven mostly by higher fuel prices. Aside from gasoline, Marsh's same store sales declined 1.9 percent.

In a statement, Don E. Marsh, chairman and c.e.o., said: "As our third quarter results demonstrate, Marsh has continued to operate profitably in an environment that remains challenging competitively and economically. Although higher fuel prices drove much of our revenue growth for the third quarter, our continued investment in new and remodeled stores also contributed to growth in revenues for the third quarter of fiscal 2005, which represented our fifth consecutive quarterly increase in revenues. Since the third quarter of fiscal 2004, this investment included the opening of four new supermarkets and the remodeling of three supermarkets."

During the third quarter of fiscal 2005, the chain opened a new Marsh supermarket in Indianapolis and completed the remodeling of two Marsh stores in Carmel and Noblesville, Ind., while closing one Village Pantry store in Linden, Ind. Subsequent to the end of the third quarter, the company opened a new Marsh Supermarket in Pendleton, Ind. to replace a LoBill Foods store that closed. The retailer is also scheduled to complete the remodeling of a Marsh supermarket in Indianapolis and another in Marion, Ind.

"Due both to our ongoing efforts to build our total revenues, as well as the opportunities created by changing demographics, we expect to continue to invest in our existing and new stores," said Marsh, noting that the company achieved third quarter growth in markets still affected by substantial unemployment and by competition.

In addition, Marsh said the chain, "Continues to experience higher commodities prices on a comparable-quarter basis, which pressured our gross margin for the third quarter. Despite this difficult operating environment, our ongoing focus on expense reduction, increased operating efficiency and asset management contributed to our sixth comparable-quarter increase in net income and earnings per diluted share," he said.

In summary, Marsh said the multi-format chain's third-quarter results "reflect our determined efforts to defend and enhance our longstanding position of leadership in our core markets; provide our customers exactly the right mix of the high quality products, outstanding service and competitive pricing they seek; and produce profitable growth and increased shareholder value. We understand the substantial challenges we face to achieve these goals, and we remain committed to achieving success."

Marsh operates 69 Marsh supermarkets, 40 LoBill Foods, 8 O'Malia Food Markets, 162 Village Pantry convenience stores, 1 Arthur's Fresh Market, and 1 Savin*$ in Indiana and western Ohio. The company also operates Crystal Food Services, Primo Banquet Catering and Conference Centers, Floral Fashions, McNamara Florist and Enflora-Flowers for Business.
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