Natural Grocers Q4 Net Sales, Comps Up

Despite increased pressure from competition, as well as regional and macro-economic factors, Natural Grocers achieved fourth-quarter net sales and comparable-store increases in line with the updated guidance it gave during its second quarter of fiscal 2016.

During the Q4 period ended Sept. 30, net sales rose 11.5 percent to $181 million, primarily driven by new store growth, along with a comps increase of 0.3 percent. The same-store increase compares to 0.7 percent daily average comps growth during the previous quarter.

“During the fourth quarter, we opened eight new stores and relocated one store, which is a record number of openings in a single quarter,” said Natural Grocers Co-President Kemper Isely on a call with investors. “Our new store opening process works smoothly, with two of the stores achieving first week sales volume that ranked in the top six of our openings in fiscal 2016.”

For the full year of fiscal 2016, net sales rose 12.9 percent to $705.5 million, driven mostly by a $70.5 million increase in sales from new stores plus a $10.3 million, or 1.7 percent, growth in comps.

As for its fiscal 2017 outlook, Isely noted that Natural Grocers plans to scale back its expansion plans as a response to the “challenging sales environment,” moderating new store growth from the 22 percent it experienced in fiscal 2016 to between 12 and 16 percent. This translates to 15 to 20 new stores, anticipated to achieve -1 to 1 percent comps and a net income margin of 1.4 to 1.6 percent.

Based in Lakewood, Colo., Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. has 127 stores in 19 states.

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