MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred's on Thursday reported sales of $178.3 million, up 4 percent, for the five-week fiscal month of March ending April 5.
Comparable store-sales for the month increased 1.2 percent versus 4.4 percent in the same period last year. Excluding the 75 stores and 22 pharmacies that have been or will be closed under the company's previously announced strategic plan to improve company performance, comparable store sales for the month would have been 1.7 percent, Fred’s reported.
“While the retail and economic environment remains skittish, putting pressure on our gross margin in the short term, our earnings outlook for the first quarter has not changed and we remain confident about the long-term benefits of our strategic plan,” commented Michael Hayes, Fred’s chief executive officer. “With implementation of the longer-term aspects of the plan now under way, we began closing our underperforming stores and pharmacies this month.”
During March, Fred's opened two stores and one new pharmacy. The company expects to open a total of 18 stores and 15 pharmacies in 2008. Fred's also closed eight stores and seven pharmacies during March. The company expects to close 75 underperforming stores and 22 underperforming pharmacies during the year.