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ATLANTA-United Natural Foods Inc. of Dayville, CT has contracted to lease a 311,793-sf distribution center at 100 Lakeview Court, replacing its existing 175,000-sf storage facility on Shirley Drive. The Nasdaq-traded company is also taking an option to buy the property later this year at an undetermined price.

United officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn leasing details. But area brokers familiar with the Lakeview Court submarket tell GlobeSt.com comparable space is leasing for about $6 per sf, making the United lease valued at about $18.7 million on a probable 10-year lease.

The company expects to spend between $500,000 and $1 million during the second and third quarters of 2002 in its relocation. United plans to sublease any space it doesn’t use at the Lakeview Court location.

“We expect the efficiencies created by consolidating our two existing facilities into one to lower our expenses relative to sales over the long term,” United president Steve Townsend says in a prepared statement.

The firm says it is the largest publicly traded wholesale distributor to the natural and organic foods industry. The company distributes 30,000 products to 7,000 conventional shopping center chains, natural product superstores and independent retail operators in 50 states. In the East, United does business as Rainbow Natural Foods; in the West as Mountain People’s Warehouse.

United reported third-quarter net income, including special charges, was $3.3 million or 17 cents per diluted share, compared to $1.8 million or 10 cents per diluted share in the comparable 2000 period that ended April 30.

Net sales totaled $258.5 milion, a 12.8% increase over the $229.2 million reported for last year’s third quarter.

For the first nine months of this year, net income, including special charges, was $9.2 million or 49 cents per diluted share versus a loss of $3.8 million or a loss of 21 cents per share in third quarter 2000.

Nine-month sales were $747.1 million, a 10% increased over the $679 million in the same period last year.

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