Asheville, North Carolina-based supermarket chain Ingles Markets has reported a downturn in profits for the first quarter of fiscal 2003 compared with the same period in the previous year.

The company's net income for the quarter was US$3.2m, compared with $4.1m in the year-ago period.

Ingles Markets' sales were $495m for the quarter, a decrease of almost 1% from the first quart of the previous fiscal year.

Ingles operated 199 stores in the quarter, four less than in the year-ago period. Comparable store sales were down less than 1%.