US grocery operator Winn-Dixie saw its net loss during its first quarter as charges from the company’s move to close 30 stores hit the bottom line.

For the quarter ended 22 September, Winn-Dixie posted a net loss of US$76.8m, against an $8.1m net loss in the same period of last year.

Net sales fell 2.3% to $1.5bn, with the company attributing the fall to a 2.8% decrease in identical-store sales.

Falling identical-store sales were attributed to competitive activity, the shift from branded pharmaceutical products to generic ones and the impact of the Gulf oil spill.

The company said its losses included a $40.1m net loss for discontinued operations related to its “previously announced 30 store closures”. Of the $36.6m net loss from continuing operations, the attributed some $13.3m to a deferred tax expense.

For fiscal 2011, Winn-Dixie is forecasting adjusted EBITDA to be between $100m and $130m.

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The retailer said it expects adjusted EBITDA to turn positive in the second quarter and to continue to improve during the year due to improvements in identical-store sales.

Winn Dixie, meanwhile, expects identical-store sales to be “slightly negative to slightly positive” and that gross margin will be slightly lower this year.

Click here for the company’s full results announcement.