MEMPHIS, Tenn. Pharmacy was about the only sales highlight for Fred’s Inc. through its fiscal 2009, the Southern discounter reported Wednesday evening.
“January sales were below expectation, with the miss resulting mainly from multiple ice and snow storms blanketing the majority of our stores in the Southeast,” commented Bruce Efird, Fred’s CEO. “While December’s sales and traffic demonstrated that our customers were willing to stretch for the holidays at Fred’s, our January sales – outside of ongoing strong results in our pharmacy department – offer a fresh reminder that the consumer remains under considerable pressure.”
Fred’s Inc. posted a 1% drop in fiscal 2009 total sales, generating $1.8 billion for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 30, the chain announced Wednesday evening. Same-store sales were up 0.4%.
For the four weeks ended Jan. 30, total sales declined 1% to $125 million. Comparable store sales fell 2%.
The company’s performance underscores the importance of the implementing new sales- and profit-driving initiatives for 2010, Efird noted. Fred’s key initiatives include:
Based on the sales shortfall Fred’s experienced in the fourth quarter 2009, management now expects earnings for the quarter to be in the range of 14 cents to 16 cents per diluted share. For the year 2009, the Company estimates earnings of 59 cents to 61 cents per diluted share, a 40% to 45% increase over 2008.
Looking ahead to 2010, management is optimistic that financial improvement will continue, with diluted earnings per share reaching the range of 68 cents to 75 cents for 2010.