Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. reported a 6.9% jump in same-store sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023 compared to the prior year, another sign that consumers continue to prioritize health and wellness when grocery shopping.
The natural and organic grocer’s net sales increased 7.6% to $295.1 million and adjusted EBITDA was $16.1 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30. On Thursday, the board of directors declared a special cash dividend of $1.00 per common share in addition to a quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per share.
"Our strong fourth quarter and fiscal year results were driven by our differentiated business model and the responsiveness of our team to industry dynamics. Our founding principles, especially our commitment to offering only the highest quality natural and organic products at Always Affordable prices, resonate with consumers more than ever," said Kemper Isely, co-president of Natural Grocers.
The Lakewood, Colorado-based grocer’s net income was $5.9 million, with diluted earnings per share of $0.26. Other fourth quarter results included daily average comparable-store sales growth of 6.9%, including a 3.6% increase in daily average transaction count, and a 100 basis point improvement in gross margin.
“Our crews' continued execution of operational and marketing initiatives culminated in our 20th consecutive year of positive sales comp and record earnings for the fiscal year," Isley said. "As we look ahead to fiscal 2024, we remain focused on enhancing shareholder value by executing to our founding principles, leveraging our differentiated model and driving profitable growth."
During Q4, the company opened one new store and relocated/remodeled two stores, ending the quarter with 165 stores in 21 states.
Looking ahead, Natural Grocers plans to open between six and eight new stores per year as part of its expansion strategy. The grocer's fiscal 2024 outlook also includes daily average comparable-store sales growth to be between 2% and 4%.