Natural and organic food retailer Whole Foods Market has announced a rise in sales and income in the third quarter ended 3 July 2005.

Sales for the period rose to $1.133bn, compared with $917m in the same period last year. Net income was $42m, compared with $32m.

The sales increase was driven by 13% weighted average year-over-year square footage growth and comparable store sales growth of 15.2%. Sales in identical stores (excluding four relocated stores and two major store expansions) increased 13.2% for the quarter.

For the 40-week period ended July 3, 2005, sales increased 22% to $3.6 billion, with sales in comparable stores increasing 12.6% and sales in identical stores increasing 11.3%. Net income increased 27% to $131.6 million.

"We are producing impressive sales and earnings results even as we compare against one of the best years in our company's history," said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market CEO, chairman and co-founder. "Our comparable stores have produced a sales increase of 12.6% year to date on top of a 15.2% increase last year, our new stores continue to perform above our expectations, producing a record $618,000 in average weekly sales during the quarter, and our net income has increased 27% year to date on top of a 34% increase last year,"

"We are working hard to capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities that lie ahead of us by steadily increasing our store development pipeline, which at 3.5 million square feet currently represents 64% of our existing square footage," he said. "We believe our goal of $10 billion in sales by the year 2010 is well within our reach."