Harris Teeter cutting out several new stores

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CHARLOTTE. (AP) ó A North Carolina-based grocery chain with stores in eight states says the weak economy is forcing it to cut the number of new stores it had planned this year.
Harris Teeterís parent firm Ruddick Corp. said it will open 16 new stores instead of 19, The Charlotte Observer reported Friday.
ěWe, like everyone else, are facing unprecedented economic uncertainty, tumultuous market conditions, and a decreasing level of consumer confidence resulting in reduced consumer spending,î said Ruddickís chairman Thomas W. Dickson.
Dickson said Harris Teeter was seeing an increase in sales of store brands.
The companyís Web site said it operates 176 retail stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland, Delaware and Washington.
The company said last summer it planned to spend about $245 million this year to open 19 stores and remodel eight more. But Ruddick said in its earnings statement filed Thursday it will spend $212 million on 16 new stores and three remodeling projects.
The company also is building a $100 million distribution center in Fredericksburg, Va., to save transportation costs to stores in northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington. The center is scheduled to open in 2012.
Ruddick said its first quarter net income dropped 1.7 percent to $22.9 million, or 47 cents a share. A 3.6 percent rise in Harris Teeter sales was offset by lower sales at its textile subsidiary American & Efird, where sales were down 17.6 percent.
Harris Teeter overall sales rose 3.6 percent to $928.9 million due to sales at new stores. Sales at existing Harris Teeter stores ó those open more than a year ó declined 2.1 percent, a statistic blamed on the economy forcing customers to buy fewer items each visit.

Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotte.com