Struggling US grocery retailer Winn-Dixie Stores has reported a net loss for the first quarter, compared to a year-earlier profit.

The company reported a net loss of US$153.1m, or $1.09 per share, for the first quarter to 22 September, compared to net earnings of $1.2m, or 1 cent per share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2004. Net sales were $2.34bn, compared to $2.42bn a year earlier.

The company said its net loss from continuing operations was $123.6m, or 88 cents per share, compared to net earnings from continuing operations of $5.2m, or 4 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Identical store sales from continuing operations, which include enlargements and exclude stores that opened or closed during the period, decreased 3.8% for the first quarter as compared to the same period last year. Comparable store sales from continuing operations, which include replacement stores, decreased 3.7% for the quarter compared to the same quarter in fiscal 2004.

"As with any turnaround that involves asset rationalisation, our near-term bottom line continues to be impacted by restructuring charges, which were substantially non-cash and within the range we provided earlier this year, as well as non-cash asset impairment charges," said Frank Lazaran, president and chief executive officer.

"Operationally, however, we improved margins sequentially for the third consecutive quarter, our initiatives to improve Winn-Dixie's operational performance and competitive position are on track, and our cash position and total liquidity remain stable," he added.