Los Angeles-based Unified Grocers has reported a sales decline for the third quarter of fiscal 2016, but improved gross margins and better expense control led to an increase in operating income.
Gross billings for the 13 weeks ended July 2 were $975 million, compared with $1.07 billion for the same quarter last year, due in large part to loss of business from Haggen’s Pacific Southwest stores. Operating income remained fairly steady, at $2.3 million.
“We are particularly pleased that we were able to maintain a similar operating income performance to last year’s third quarter in light of the loss of sales from the Haggen Pacific Southwest business,” said Bob Ling, president/CEO.
Year-to-date gross billings for the 39 weeks ended July 2 were $2.94 billion, compared with $2.996 billion last year, again attributable to the loss of the Haggen business. However, operating income was $5.2 million for the period, compared with $2.1 million last year.
The wholesaler is meeting its goal of getting “on track as we wound down the Haggen Pacific Southwest business, and year-to-date results show we’re doing that,” Ling added. The company has the liquidity needed to continue to grow its operations and sales.
Ling also noted several success stories for the wholesaler: the Market Centre division that is helping members differentiate their stores in the fast-growing specialty and natural business, successful transition of the California dairy business through a preferred supplier arrangement with Dean Foods, and membership in Topco, giving members access to a wider range of general merchandise and health/beauty/wellness products.