Californian retailer Stater Bros. has posted higher first-quarter sales and profits.

The retailer, which runs 167 supermarkets in the state, saw net income more than double to US$11.1m in the 13 weeks to 29 December.

Operating profit was up 44.1% at $30.1m as Stater Bros. benefited from higher sales and moves to keep costs down.

Sales grew 1.6% to $984m. Like-for-like sales were up 1.4%.

The retailer managed to increase its gross margins, although Jack Brown, the company's chairman, president and CEO, said they had "sacrificed" some profitability by keeping prices down.

"Our strategy over the past several years has had a positive impact on our sales growth. We have been and remain committed to providing low prices, great value and outstanding service to all of our valued customers," Brown said.

Show the press release

Stater Bros. Sales And Customer Counts Increase In The First Quarter Of Fiscal 2014

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.Feb. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Jack H. Brown, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Stater Bros. Holdings Inc. announced financial results for the thirteen week period ended December 29, 2013.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121101/LA04466LOGO)

The Company's consolidated sales in the thirteen weeks ended December 29, 2013 were $984.0 millionup $15.3 million or 1.58% from the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2012 consolidated sales of $968.7 million.  Like store sales also increased $13.7 million or 1.42% for the thirteen weeks ended December 29, 2013 compared to the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2012.

Gross profit margins for the thirteen weeks ended December 29, 2013 were 26.28% of sales compared to the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2012 gross profit margin of 25.88% of sales.

The Company reported net income for the first quarter ended December 29, 2013 of $11.1 millioncompared to net income of $5.4 million for first quarter of the prior fiscal year.

Brown said, "We are pleased with our sales and customer count growth in the first quarter of fiscal 2014 given the extremely competitive environment in Southern California.  We continue to be the number '1' full service supermarket chain in Southern California.

"We believe  that our sales and customer count growth is due to our 'Valued Customers' positive response to our 'Low Price' marketing strategy of keeping our prices as low as possible during these continued challenging economic times while continuing to provide our customers the service and value they deserve on each of their visits to their local Stater Bros.' supermarket. 

"During the extended economic downtown, we have sacrificed gross margin by not fully passing on the costs of inflation which has allowed us to keep our prices low for our 'Valued Customers'.  In addition, in order to continue to invest in our customers, we are constantly looking for opportunities where we can reduce our costs in areas such as improving our shrink or product loss, and improving our efficiencies at both our stores and in our distribution facility.  

"Our strategy over the past several years has had a positive impact on our sales growth.  We have been and remain committed to providing low prices, great value and outstanding service to all of our 'Valued Customers'."

Stater Bros. is the largest privately owned Supermarket Chain in Southern California and the largest private employer in both San Bernardino County and Riverside County, with annual sales in 2013 of $3.9 billion.  The Company currently operates 167 Supermarkets, and there are over 18,000 members of the Stater Bros. Supermarket Family. 

Original source: Stater Bros.