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Publix raises funds for tornado victims

BY Allison Cerra

LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix announced that it has kicked off a donation program that offers customers and associates the opportunity to directly assist those in the South affected by recent tornadoes and severe weather.

Customers will be able to donate funds by adding them to their grocery totals at Publix registers. The funds will be channeled through the American Red Cross.

In a separate donation, Publix Super Markets Charities is contributing $100,000 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts for the areas affected by the tornadoes.

“Our customers and associates have trusted Publix to react quickly and help those affected by tragic circumstances,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations. “This disaster to the South hits close to home as we operate in some of the impacted areas. Our first priority was to account for our associates and then to focus on our operations in order to continue serving our communities in time of need.”

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Ingles reports positive Q2, half-year results

BY Allison Cerra

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Net sales and net income for Ingles Markets realized a 4% and 38% increase, respectively, during the second quarter ended March 26, the retailer announced Friday.

Ingles reported that second-quarter net sales rose $33.4 million to $870.4 million, while second-quarter net income increased from $5.6 million to $7.7 million.

Excluding gasoline, total sales increased 2.4%, and grocery segment comparable-store sales increased 1.9%, compared with the second quarter of the prior fiscal year. The number of customer transactions (excluding gasoline) increased 0.8%, while the comparable average transaction size increased 1.5%, compared with the same quarter last year.

For the first six months of fiscal 2011, net sales rose 3.9% to $1.74 billion, and net income increased 32.4% to $15.4 million, compared with the first six months of fiscal 2010.

During the March 2011 six-month period, Ingles opened one new store and three remodeled stores.

Commenting on the financial results, Ingles Markets CEO Robert Ingle II said the second-quarter results were a "testament to the legacy" of the company’s founder, Robert Ingle, who passed away March 6.

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Weis expands 2011 cap ex budget

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets on Thursday announced an increase of its 2011 capital expenditure budget by 7% to $110 million. The current budget includes 14 major remodels, two additions and three new/replacement stores.

The company currently is building a replacement unit near Reading, a new unit near Easton and a replacement unit near State College, all in Pennsylvania.

"We’ve significantly increased the pace and tempo of our growth," stated Jonathan Weis, vice chairman of Weis Markets, during the grocer’s annual shareholders meeting. "Over the past two years, we’ve averaged 15 major projects — triple what we were doing a couple of years ago — and our cap ex budget has increased by nearly 35% during this period. We continue to reinvest in our stores, information technology systems and human capital at an unprecedented rate."

Weis Markets president and CEO David Hepfinger also reported that the company would continue to increase its technology investments, which have totaled $25 million in recent years. "While we will continue to make major investments in our store base, our growth will be based on more than just bricks and mortar," Hepfinger said. "Effective information technology systems are essential to our growth and success. We are determined to give our associates the tools and analytics they need to better serve the needs of our business and our customers."

In related news, Weis’ board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 29 cents per share to shareholders of record as of May 9, payable on May 23.

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