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Unified CEO On 3Q Results: On Track After Haggen’s Hit To Top Line

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Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:33 am

Unified Grocers suffered a blow during its fiscal third quarter due to the loss of business from Haggen’s Pacific Southwest stores but, according to the wholesaler’s leader, there also are reasons to be pleased with the results, which came out Monday.

The “top line was hit a little bit, certainly…this was the quarter when Haggen went away,” President and CEO Bob Ling told The Shelby Report during a sit-down interview at Unified’s annual expo in Long Beach this week. “Like every other wholesaler in the country, we experienced some deflation, especially in the meat category. If you sort of wash that out, we were really pleased with what occurred in the third quarter. All our internal metrics that we use to measure our performance are above our projections from the start of the year, and we’re very happy that we’re back on track.”

The reported gross billings for the 39 weeks ended July 2 of $2.914 billion compared to $2.996 billion for the same period last year. While sales declined — primarily due to the loss of the Haggen business—operating income is up year-to-date due to improved gross margins and a focus on expense control and warehouse efficiencies. Operating income of $5.2 million for the 2016 period compared to $2.1 million in the same period last year.

Gross billings for the 13 weeks ended July 2 of $974 million compared to $1.070 billion for the same period last year. While sales declined due to the loss of Haggen business, operating income of $2.3 million was comparable to the same period last year.

“The goal for this year was to get on track as we wound down the Haggen Pacific Southwest business, and the year-to-date results show we’re doing that,” Ling said. “With borrowing availability under our revolving loan agreement of $127 million we have the liquidity we need to execute the strategies we have in place to further improve our operations and grow sales.

“We are particularly pleased that we were able to maintain a similar operating income performance to last year’s third quarter in light of the loss of sales from the Haggen Pacific Southwest business.

“Looking at the bigger picture, there are many success stories around the organization,” Ling added. “Our Market Centre division continues to find new ways to help our members differentiate themselves in the fast-growing specialty and natural business. We have also successfully transitioned our Southern California dairy business through a preferred supplier arrangement with Dean Foods, and our members now have access to a wider range of general merchandise and health, beauty and wellness products through our membership in Topco.

“I’m excited to showcase these and many other new products to our members and other customers this week at our Expo event at the Long Beach Convention Center. Unified’s annual Expo is the largest, best-attended grocery trade show in the western U.S. and I’m confident that this year’s event will be valuable for all participants.”

*Editor’s note: Find more from The Shelby Report’s interview with Bob Ling and other Unified executives in an upcoming print edition of The Shelby Report of the West.

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The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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