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Retailers Report Mixed Results

The Pantry Inc. said it would post a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter because of lower margins on gasoline sales.

The company, which operates 1,324 stores in 10 states under brands such as The Pantry, Handy Way, Lil' Champ and Big K, projected a loss before charges of between 3 to 6 cents per share in the quarter ended Sept. 27. The loss was due in large part to an increase in wholesale gasoline prices, which rose rapidly between late July and mid-September. Actual results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended September 27, 2001 will be reported in November.

Pantry Chief Executive Peter Sodini said the company was looking for new cost-cutting measures and that its prior restructuring program was on track to produce savings of about $5 million.

"In this challenging environment, we have adjusted our sales and marketing programs and are aggressively seeking ways to realize additional savings and improve operating efficiencies," Sodini said. "Our January 2001 restructuring plan is on track to produce annualized pre-tax savings of approximately $5 million. Moreover, we are prudently controlling discretionary spending, while investing in projects designed to enhance our market position and working capital."

7-Eleven Inc., operator of 5,800 stores in North America, reported a 5.8 percent rise in its September merchandise sales at U.S. The increase comes on top of 5.7 percent growth for September 2000, the Dallas-based company said.

Total merchandise sales for the month increased 6.5 percent to $611 million from $573 million a year ago. Gasoline sales for September were basically flat at $231 million, compared with $232 million a year earlier. The average amount of gasoline sold per store increased 2 percent in the month.

On a year-to-date basis, U.S. same-store merchandise sales are up 4.9 percent. Gasoline sales total $2.2 billion, an increase of 7.7 percent, and the average number of gallons sold per store per month has increased 4 percent.
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