US food retailer and distributor Spartan Stores has reported higher quarterly profits despite a fall in sales as earnings were boosted by a programme to consolidate its warehouses.

Spartan yesterday (13 October) booked second-quarter net earnings of US$11.2m for the 12 weeks to 11 September, up from $10.4m a year earlier.

Operating earnings reached $22.1m compared with $21m the previous year. Spartan said its operating earnings were boosted by a $1.2m benefit from its "warehouse consolidation initiative".

Spartan said "economic and competitive conditions" had hit its retail sales and led to a fall in the group's consolidated net sales, which reached $602.1m, down from $610.2m a year ago.

Comparable-store sales from Spartan's retail sales fell 4.7%. In the first quarter of the year, comparable-store sales were down 6.1%.

"We continue to be encouraged by the improvement in our business trends," said president and CEO Dennis Eidson. "As anticipated, our trend in retail comparable-store sales has improved on a sequential basis for the past two quarters. In addition, our second-quarter operating earnings are one of the highest second-quarter levels that we have reported in the past five years."