Regional US supermarket group and food distributor Spartan Stores has booked a decline in full-year earnings despite a 4% increase in sales.

The Michigan-based company, which operates a number of banners including D&W Fresh Market and Family Fare Supermarkets, said net earnings in the year to 31 March fell to US$31.7m, down from $32.3m last year.  

Adjusted EBITDA for the year increased 5.2% to $109.7m, or 4.2% of net sales, compared to $104.3m, or 4.1% of sales last year.

Net sales for the fiscal rose to $2.6bn, up from $2.5bn last year. Spartan attributed the gains to an extra week of sales – which added $49.8m to revenues – and higher fuel sales. Comparable sales fell 1.6%, the group revealed.

“We continued to execute on our strategic initiatives during the year as we successfully completed the rollout of our loyalty program to all traditional supermarket banners, increased our private brand development, enhanced our focus on fresh excellence and converted one of our existing Glen’s locations to a Valu Land, our new value-focused store format which is currently under development,” president and CEO Dennis Eidson revealed.

In the coming year Eidson said that while the economic climate remains “challenging” the group “anticipates improvement” during 2013.

However, Spartan said first-quarter results will “likely fall slightly below” the prior year’s as a result of store openings, promotional costs and the company’s belief that the first half of the year will be “challenging” as “Michigan jobs creation continues to lag the overall economic improvement”.

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