Whole and Hearty

Whole Foods sees sales jump in 3Q, continues aggressive store expansion
Posted August 1, 2003

Whole Foods Market Inc. (Austin, Texas) has announced a 15 percent sales increase for its fiscal third quarter ending July 6, 2003.

Same-store sales grew by 7.6 percent and weighted average year-over-year square footage by 11 percent.

"We are pleased with our 7.6 percent comparable store sales increase during the quarter, given our tough 10.5 percent comparison in the prior year," said chairman, president and ceo John Mackey. "These results are consistent with our 18 percent two-year average comp for the past four years."

Mackey reported that all three Harry's Farmers Market stores (Atlanta-based subsidiary) showed positive comps for the third quarter, "and we now expect them to have a slightly positive impact on our comparable store sales in the fourth quarter. We are seeing a slight improvement in our overall comparable store sales growth, which has averaged 8 percent over the last six weeks."

The natural and organic foods retailer reported that the greatest same-store sales gain for the quarter occurred with its newest locations, stores less than two years old and averaging 35,700 square feet, which experienced an overall jump of 21.4 percent over last year.

In the third quarter, Whole Foods opened one new store, in Sacramento, Calif., ending the quarter with 144 stores. Total square footage open at the end of the third quarter was approximately 4.5 million. Due to some last-minute permitting delays, its new store in Santa Monica, Calif., didn't open until July 16, too late for the quarterly accounting. The company has recently signed leases for five new stores, in Chevy Chase, Md., Charlottesville, Va., Baton Rouge, La., New Orleans and Atlanta. It currently has 29 stores in development averaging 45,000 square feet in size and totaling approximately 1.3 million square feet.