Sprouts Farmers Market said Thursday new stores helped boost financial results for the first quarter ended March 29.
Net income for the 13-week quarter rose 11.1% to $37.5 million, while sales climbed 18.7% to $857.5 million and comparable store sales grew 4.8%.
The company opened 24 new stores last year and 10 more in the first quarter -- two each in Alabama, California and Texas and single units in Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and Utah.
Sprouts said it has opened five new locations in the second quarter, with 12 more additions planned through the balance of the fiscal year, for total annual capital spending of $100 million to $110 million.
Doug Sanders, president and CEO of the Phoenix-based chain, said sales gains were achieved despite a difficult produce season.
He said the company expects to benefit going forward from innovations in its private label offering, ongoing tests of new deli offerings plus new-store openings, "[all of which] have already made a positive impact, paving the way for future growth."
The company said gross profit margin in the quarter fell 30 basis points to 30.1%, driven by produce tightness due to adverse weather conditions and the West Coast port strikes that limited product availability; the timing of store openings that resulted in a lower blended gross margin; and the impact of continued price investments in certain categories.
Sprouts said it expects comps to rise between 5.5% and 6.5% during the second quarter; for the full 53-week year it said it expects net sales growth of 20% to 22% and comp sales increases of 6% to 7%.
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