Sales up at Harris Teeter in Q4 as profits slip

elyportillo@charlotteobserver.comOctober 31, 2013 

Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. said Friday that sales increased 4.5 percent in its fourth quarter compared with last year, to $1.2 billion, but expenses from its upcoming acquisition by The Kroger Co. ate into the Matthews-based grocer’s profits.

“We are pleased with our results for fiscal 2013 and the opportunities ahead of us with the Kroger merger and our recent store acquisitions. Our pricing and promotional strategies were effective,” Harris Teeter CEO Thomas Dickson said in a statement.

The company said it still expects to close its deal with Kroger this year. Kroger agreed in July to acquire Harris Teeter for more than $2.4 billion. Harris Teeter shareholders voted last month to approve the sale, which still requires federal antitrust approval.

Kroger executives said Wednesday that the Harris Teeter acquisition is going smoothly, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, and they’re not expecting any complications in closing the deal.

Harris Teeter said acquisition-related expenses in the fourth quarter cut profits to the tune of $5.9 million. The added costs lowered profits to $21.1 million, down 7.5 percent from the same quarter last year.

But for the full fiscal year, Harris Teeter said profits jumped 31 percent, to $107.9 million. Sales for the full year were up 3.8 percent, to $4.7 billion.

The increase was driven largely by increased sales at stores open for a year or longer, considered a key measure of a retailer’s health. Such sales were up 2.2 percent compared with last year, Harris Teeter said. The company opened nine new stores and closed one in 2013; its total sales floor square footage increased 4.2 percent.

Harris Teeter is still acquiring more supermarkets. The company agreed to purchase seven Piggly Wiggly stores in South Carolina and reopen them as Harris Teeters.

Harris Teeter operates 216 stores, concentrated in North Carolina.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; On Twitter @ESPortillo

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