Ingles Markets reported an uptick in both customer count and average basket size during its fiscal fourth quarter.
The Asheville, N.C., retailer said sales for the 13-week period, which ended Sept. 29, totaled $1.06 billion vs. sales of $1.09 billion during the 14-week fourth quarter in fiscal 2017. Adjusted for the extra week in the year-ago period, comp sales, excluding gasoline, improved by 2.3%. Gross margin as a percent of sales also increased slightly to 24.2% of sales versus 24% in last year’s fourth quarter.
“Our associates’ hard work and dedication contributed to our outstanding sales. We will continue to invest in our business for sustainable long-term growth,” Robert P. Ingle II, Ingles’ chairman, said in a release.
Quarterly earnings totaled $18.4 million compared with net income of $19.4 million for the 14-week 2017 quarter. Diluted earnings per share were 91 cents vs. 96 cents last year.
For the fiscal year, Ingles reported sales of $4.1 billion, a 2.2% increase from the 53-week 2017 year, with adjusted comps up by 2%, excluding gasoline. Annual net income jumped 80.7% to $97.4 million.
During fiscal 2018, Ingles opened five new store buildings and closed four stores, some of which were or are being rebuilt. Other store improvement capital projects in fiscal 2018 focused on improved merchandising, convenience and the range of products, the company said.
Ingles operates 200 supermarkets in the Southeast states and also operates neighborhood shopping centers where many of its stores are located.