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Winn-Dixie reports 1Q sales growth


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores today reported first quarter 2008 net sales of $1.6 billion, an increase of 0.7% over the first quarter 2007. The company reported identical-store sales increased 0.2%, compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported that gross profit on sales in the first quarter was $446.4 million, an increase of $21.9 million compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 27.5% in the first quarter compared to 26.4% in the same period of fiscal 2007, an increase of 110 basis points. According to the company, the improvement in gross margin was due primarily to a planned reduction in promotional spending in the first quarter of the current fiscal year and to a lesser extent operational improvements that reduced costs at its distribution facilities.

The company reported adjusted EBITDA of $19.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2008, compared to a loss of $11.1 million in the same period of fiscal 2007. The company incurred a net loss for the quarter of $0.8 million compared with a net loss of $24.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, an improvement of $23.8 million.

Winn-Dixie chairman, ceo and president, Peter Lynch said, "We are very pleased with our financial progress this quarter, especially improvements in adjusted EBITDA and gross margin, which reflects the operational changes we are making while we continue to execute our long-term turnaround plan. In addition to the store remodels, we are working to improve our competitive position by enhancing the conditions at all our stores, refining our merchandising and promotional activity, managing costs, training our dedicated associates and improving customer service."

For the fiscal 2008 year, Winn-Dixie expects adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $90 million to $115 million. Identical-store sales are expected to be slightly positive. Gross margin in fiscal 2008 is expected to be slightly higher than in fiscal 2007.

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