US grocery chain Spartan Stores has posted a wider loss for its fiscal fourth quarter as it struggled to cut costs and boost sales.

Spartan, which operates stores under banners including Ashcraft's Markets and Glen's Markets, reported a net loss for the quarter to 29 March of US$20.9m, compared to a net loss of $5.0m a year earlier.

Retail sales for the quarter fell 6.6% to $188.7m from $202.0m in the year-ago period. The company attributed the fall in sales to increased competition, the later Easter holiday and the closure of its loss-making Food Town stores.

Spartan, which also has some grocery distribution operations, forecast a 0.7% rise in fiscal first-quarter same-store retail sales. The company also said it would save $8m annually, starting in the second quarter, from its recent decision to cut 11% of its corporate workforce, reported Reuters.