GRAND RAPIDS, MI-Despite increased competition from supercenters, Spartan Stores sales and earnings performance remained strong for the second quarter with net earnings of $7.1 million and net sales of $485.5 million for the 12 week period ending Sept. 10, 2005. Both earnings and sales figures were comparable to the same period last year, the company said.

“We are pleased with these results because it demonstrates our ability to withstand the significant increase in new supercenter competition in our markets,” Craig C. Sturken, Spartan’s chairman, president and chief executive officer said in a conference call with investors and analysts Thursday. “Our financial performance has placed us in our strongest financial position in many years.”

Sturken said the company, which operates 54 supermarkets and 21 deep-discount drugstores in Michigan and Ohio under the Family Fare and Glen’s Markets names, among others, has made steady financial progress in the last 12 months despite the opening of eight additional supercenters and two Costco’s in the markets it serves. As a result of measures taken during the last 2½ years, Sturken said the company, the leading grocery distributor in Michigan, has seen its stock price increase from $2.34 cents on March 31, 2003 to $9.30 per share at the end of last week, accounting for a 290% return on investment during that period. The company’s shares were valued at $9.23 at the close of business Thursday.

The firm’s retail segment, however, saw sales drop from $232.2 million for the second quarter last year to $221.9 million in the current year, due primarily to retail competition and the sale of a retail store joint venture along with the closing of two underperforming stores. Higher sales from the company’s fuel centers, however, helped offset some of those losses. Despite those changes and an increasingly competitive environment, retail earnings were comparable to the prior year, declining slightly by $300,000 to $6.5 million for the second quarter.

The addition of 10 new accounts and 27 stores to its distribution base this year helped improve distribution sales, which increased 3.6% from $254.5 million in last year’s second quarter to $263.7 million in the current year. Earnings for the segment declined from $6.4 million to $5.7 million during the quarter, however, due primarily to a $1 million contract termination payment received from a customer during 2004 and the second quarter inclusion of a $0.6 million pretax charge for advisory fees related to the firm’s recently completed strategic review process.

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