COVID Sales Spark Dramatic Upswing at SpartanNash

Sleepy retail stores get a jolt in Q1
Photograph courtesy of SpartanNash

A sudden spike in sales coming with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic played out in robust financial results for the retail, wholesale and military divisions of SpartanNash, the company said.

For the 16-week fiscal first quarter, which ended April 18, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer and distributor saw consolidated sales increase by 12.4% to $2.86 billion and net earning jump by 106.2% to $15.4 million.

Spartan’s retail division was running flat comps, and its military unit negative comps through the first 10 weeks of the period in mid-March. These figures changed dramatically when the pandemic struck. Retail comps over the final six weeks of the quarter ran at 42% and finished up by 15.6% in the quarter overall. The company had only turned positive comps at retail during last year’s third quarter, ending a streak of five years of negative quarterly same-store sales. Military comps swung from a decrease of 3.2% to positive 18.1% in the same period, finishing on the quarter up by 4.9%.

Distribution sales saw a similar increase. Its comps soared from positive 9.5% to 29.7% and were up by 15.6% for the entire period.

“These increases reflected a meaningful change in customer behavior in response to the pandemic as volumes increased due to retail consumers stocking up,” the company said in a release. “This was followed by a shift to food-at-home in connection with state mandated business shutdowns, including restaurants, as well as stay-at-home orders.”

The results prompted SpartanNash to revise the financial outlook for the fiscal year first issued in February, noting sales would materially exceed initial 2020 guidance, calling for mid-single digit distribution sales; retail comps in the range of flat to 0.7%; and a low-single digit decline in sales to military facilities.

The company now anticipates adjusted earnings per share from continuing operationsof approximately $1.85 to $2 compared to its prior projection of $1.12 to $1.20. Reported earnings per share from continuing operations are expected to range from $1.48 to $1.81 compared to its prior projection of 93 cents to $1.04. It also anticipates that adjusted earnings per share in the second quarter will increase by 70%-100% from the same period a year ago.

Fiscal 2020 adjusted EBITDA is now anticipated to be in the range of $205 million to $215 million compared to its prior guidance of $180 million to $190 million.


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