Struggling US supermarket company Winn-Dixie Stories has reported a wider loss for what it described as a "tough" quarter.

The company reported a net loss of US$399.7m, or $2.84 per share, for the second quarter to 12 January, compared to $79.5m, or $0.57 per share, for the year-ago period. Net sales were $3.08bn, compared to $3.23bn a year earlier.

Identical store sales from continuing operations, which include enlargements and exclude stores that opened or closed during the period, decreased 4.9% for the second quarter compared to the same period last year. Comparable store sales from continuing operations, which include replacement stores, decreased 4.8% for the quarter compared to the same quarter in fiscal 2004.

"This was a tough quarter for the company, with competition continuing to intensify and holiday sales below anticipated levels," said president and chief executive Peter Lynch.

"The decline we have experienced needs to be addressed swiftly and we intend to do so. Having spent the last two months taking an in-depth look at the company and visiting over 50 stores across our chain, it's clear to me that Winn-Dixie has both serious challenges and significant opportunities. The company has great locations in many desirable markets, but the merchandising in many locations needs improvement and there is a lack of excitement in the stores," he added.