Overall Q3 Sales Up 15% at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market Inc. reported sales rose 15 percent to $2.2 billion for the 12-week third quarter ending July 4.

Comparable store sales increased 8.8 percent, or 6.3 percent on a two-year stacked basis. Identical store sales, excluding three relocations, increased 8.4 percent, or 4.6 percent on a two-year stacked basis. EBITDA increased 27 percent to $179.8 million from $141.4 million last year.

“We are pleased with our results which compare very favorably to most other food retailers and show we are continuing to gain market share. Our identical store sales increased 8.4 percent, accelerating from the second quarter and our highest increase since 2006. Despite tougher comparisons and the recent dip in reported consumer confidence, our two-year stacked identical store sales also sequentially increased,” said John Mackey, co-CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market. “We are also very excited to announce six new leases. We have eight leases in negotiation and expect an accelerated pace of lease signings to translate into a higher number of new store openings starting in 2012.”

For the 40-week period ending July 4, sales increased 11 percent to $6.9 billion. Comparable store sales increased 6.7 percent, or 2.9 percent on a two-year stacked basis, and identical store sales (excluding five relocations and two major expansions) increased 5.9 percent, or 1 percent on a two-year stacked basis.

Whole Foods opened six stores, acquired two stores and divested two stores related to an FTC settlement agreement in the third quarter resolving the antitrust challenge to its merger with Wild Oats Markets Inc. With 298 stores totaling 11.2 million square feet, the company expects to open one store in the fourth quarter.

The company has terminated leases for two stores in development and recently signed six new leases averaging 33,900 square feet each in San Francisco; Boise, Idaho; Minneapolis; Austin, Texas (two sites); and Washington, D.C., for stores scheduled to open in fiscal year 2012 and beyond.

“We are projecting steady sales growth for next year and are committed to delivering incremental operating margin improvement as well as earnings growth in excess of sales growth,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO. “We believe this guidance appropriately reflects a tempering of our enthusiasm over current sales growth trends with conservatism due to the competitive environment and the economy.”

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market operates 298 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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