New Stores, Fresh Boost Unified's Sales 6.1% in FY 07

LOS ANGELES -- Unified Grocers here, the largest wholesale grocery distributor in the western United States, yesterday reported strong sales growth for the fiscal year ended Sept. 29, 2007. The cooperative said it achieved net sales of $3.13 billion for the period, 6.1 percent higher than the $2.95 billion it recorded for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2006.

Unified attributed its 2007 sales performance primarily to members' new stores and continued growth in its perishables and specialty divisions.

Operating income and net earnings showed declines from the prior year, but the company said its core operations actually improved. Operating income for the 2007 period dropped 6.1 percent from the 2006 period -- however, factoring in the impact of favorable workers' compensation loss reserve adjustments and litigation recoveries occurring in the 2006 period, the company's operating income on an adjusted basis increased by over 10 percent.

These same factors also affected net earnings, which were $14.4 million for the 2007 period, as compared to $16.1 million for the 2006 period.

Looking ahead, president and c.e.o. Alfred A. Plamann noted in a statement, "We anticipate continued strong growth during 2008. In addition to approximately $1 billion in additional annual sales volume anticipated from our recent transaction with Associated Grocers, we believe the strategies we have in place, the synergies we expect to achieve, and the additional resources we have acquired will continue to keep our company and our retailers successful in 2008 and beyond."

Unified's financial performance for the 2007 period does not include results from Associated Grocers, Inc. Unified acquired certain assets and assumed certain liabilities of Associated Grocers on Sept. 30, 2007.

Unified Grocers recently changed its from Unified Western Grocers to strengthen its corporate brand and image in the marketplace, and has begun to utilize Unified Grocers as its business name for nearly all purposes. The wholesaler said it expects to effectuate a legal name change after approval by shareholders at its annual meeting in February.
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