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Marsh Supermarkets Records Bigger Q4 Loss

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets, Inc. said it saw positive sales and comp results for the 13 weeks ended April 2, 2005, but was handed a quarterly net loss larger than in the fourth quarter of last year.

The chain here also reported income and sales gains for the fiscal year.

For the fourth quarter, Marsh rang up revenues of $419 million, vs. $376 million for the 12-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2004. Comparable supermarket and c-store sales rose 3.1 percent, compared to the year-ago period. Comparable store merchandise sales, which exclude gas, increased 1.8 percent.

The fourth-quarter loss was $1.43 million, or $0.18 per diluted share, compared with $1.2 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, last year. Affecting the quarterly pre-tax operating results were the receipt of $2.4 million in settlement of litigation against two of the company's general liability insurance carriers for costs related to the remediation of petroleum contamination; $0.9 million in expenses to settle a claim brought by a former officer of the company, C. Alan Marsh; and an $0.8 million charge to depreciation, to correct the company's accounting for leases.

During the fourth quarter, the company opened a Marsh store to replace a closed LoBill, and closed a Village Pantry location.

For the 53-week 2005 fiscal year, the chain's net income was $4.2 million, or $0.52 per share, compared with $3 million, or $0.38. Total revenues registered $1.7 billion, vs. $1.6 billion in the 2004 fiscal year.

Marsh's retail sales in comparable supermarkets and convenience stores grew in fiscal 2005 by 1.6 percent on a 52-week basis, while comparable store merchandise sales, which exclude gasoline, declined 0.8 percent, also on a 52-week basis.

"We are pleased that, while 20 competitors' supermarkets have been built or remodeled during the past two years, fourth quarter comparable store customer count was equal to the year earlier quarter," said Don E. Marsh, chairman and c.e.o. "We will continue to distinguish ourselves from our competitors by delivering superior products and service, and by guaranteeing customer satisfaction."

Earlier this week, the grocer said it would retain its c.f.o., Douglas Dougherty, as a business and financial services consultant after his recent retirement. Dougherty, also the retailer's treasurer and s.v.p., will be paid $382,080 over the next 24 months for his services, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mark A. Varner, v.p./corporate controller, will serve as interim c.f.o until a successor is named. He has served in various accounting positions at the company since 1971.

Marsh operates 69 namesake-banner supermarkets, 38 LoBill Foods, eight O'Malia Food Markets, 161 Village Pantry c-stores, one Arthur's Fresh Market and one Savin*$ in Indiana and Western Ohio. The company also operates Crystal Food Services, which provides upscale catering, cafeteria management, office coffee, coffee roasting, vending and concessions; Primo Banquet Catering and Conference Centers; Floral Fashions, McNamara Florist and Enflora-Flowers for Business.
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