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Whole Foods Market's Comparable Store Sales Increase 9.4 Percent

AUSTIN, Texas - Whole Foods Market Inc., the world's largest natural and organic foods supermarket company, on Wednesday reported that sales for the first quarter ended Jan. 20, 2002 increased 21 percent over the prior year. This increase was driven by 16 percent year-over- year square footage growth and better than expected comparable store sales growth of 9.4 percent.

Sales in identical stores (excluding three relocated stores) increased 7.5 percent for the quarter. Net income for the quarter increased 34 percent to $20.1 million from $15.0 million in the prior year, and diluted earnings per share increased 26 percent to $0.34, compared to $0.27 in the prior year.

"For the ninth consecutive quarter, we delivered top-line growth of over 20 percent driven by impressive sales at both our new and existing stores," said John Mackey, chairman, president and CEO of Whole Foods Market. "New stores produced average weekly sales of $380,000, and our comparable store sales increases continue to be the highest for public supermarket companies and among the highest in retailing overall."

During the first quarter, the company acquired three stores, opened one new store in Maryland, relocated its 14,000-square-foot store in Northridge, Calif., to a new 28,000-square-foot location, and closed two stores as previously announced. So far during the second quarter, the company has opened one new store in Kansas City and plans to open two additional stores. It has signed a lease for one new store in Madison, N.J., and currently has 20 stores in development with an average store size of 36,000 square feet. Approximately 25 percent of these stores will be in new markets including Portland, Ore.; Toronto, Canada; Pittsburgh, Albuquerque and Las Vegas.

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market currently has 129 stores in the United States.
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