US food retailer and distributor Nash Finch has reported a rise in its fiscal fourth-quarter net income but said that sales were down due to the fiercely competitive market.

The Minneapolis-based company posted fourth-quarter net income of US$7.7m, compared with $6.7m in the year-ago period. The company’s revenues dropped to $868.2m from $938.6m a year earlier.

The company also posted its delayed third-quarter earnings report, modified to reflect an accounting change. Earnings in the third quarter were $7.5m, compared to $6.1m in the year-ago period. Third-quarter revenues were $1.18bn compared to $1.23bn a year earlier.

“The intense competition in our industry, combined with the difficult economic environment, continues to affect our results,” chief executive Ron Marshall was quoted by Reuters as saying. “We are taking steps to reengineer and strengthen our retail operations and to bolster our food distribution business.”

Nash Finch has forecasted earnings for 2003 to be between $2.29 and $2.35 per share.