US regional grocery retailer Ingles Markets has reported a sharp rise in second-quarter net income, helped by a 5.6% increase in comparable store sales.

The Asheville, North Carolina-based company posted net income of US$7.2m, or 31 cents per share, for the second quarter to 27 March 2004, compared to $1.8m, or 8 cents per share, for the same period of the previous year. The year-ago quarter included the effect of an after-tax charge of $1.6m, or 7 cents per share, for the adoption of a new accounting pronouncement.

Net sales increased 6.5% over the March 2003 quarter, while comparable store sales rose 5.6% for the same period. At the beginning of fiscal 2004, Ingles introduced its Ingles Advantage Savings and Reward Card designed to drive sales.

During the six months to March 2004, Ingles completed two major remodel/expansions and two minor remodels, and closed one older store. In addition, Ingles purchased four store sites. For the balance of the fiscal year, Ingles expects to open one new store, complete one major remodel/expansion and open one replacement store.

Ingles Markets operates 197 supermarkets in six southeastern states.