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    Susser Reports Increase in Merchandise Sales

    First-quarter numbers also see improvements from retail fuel margins.

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Increased retail fuel margins and an 8.8-percent increase in merchandise sales helped Susser Holdings Corp., operator of more than 300 Stripes-branded c-stores, to boost total revenues to $528.6 million, compared to the $523.3 million seen in the same quarter of 2006, the company stated. Merchandise sales totaled $93.4 million.

    Total gross profit for the company also increased 7.6 percent to $52.4 million, reflecting the positive merchandise sales and fuel margins. However, the company reported a net loss in the first quarter of $2.4 million, compared to a net loss of $3.9 million in the year-ago period. The company attributed the increases in its net numbers to higher gross profit and lower interest expense.

    "Despite the impact of unusual winter weather patterns that negatively impacted sales in our key markets, we recorded strong year-over-year growth in merchandise sales and merchandise gross profit during the first quarter," Sam L. Susser, Susser Holdings president and CEO, said in a written statement. "We also benefited from stronger retail fuel margins."

    The company added six Laredo Taco Company restaurants in the first quarter, and plans to add 25 to 30 additional locations in existing stores this year, Susser added. The company also added two new larger-format stores and closed two smaller stores. Its total store count as of April 1 was 325. In the second quarter, the company plans to open four new stores, while 18 to 22 new locations are expected to be built in 2007, almost all of which will have a Laredo Taco Company restaurant.

    The company also is looking forward to stronger performance over the summer.

    "With the winter behind us and our convenience store and fuel island re-branding projects now complete, we expect improved retail sales performance as we move into the seasonally-stronger spring and summer quarters," Susser said. "Our organic growth program is on track, and we are actively seeking acquisition opportunities that will be accretive to earnings and offer strong synergies."

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