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QUALITY MARKETS PARENT REPORTS 6.6% PROFIT HIKE

Penn Traffic Co., the parent company of Quality Markets, reported that net income rose 6.6 percent and its sales set a record in the fourth quarter.

The food corporation said its profits before an extraordinary charge came to $8.1 million, or 73 cents per share, up from $7.6 million, or 68 cents per share, for the final quarter of fiscal 1994.

The strong sales came despite depressed same-store revenues. Total revenues increased 1.7 percent for the quarter, while same-store sales dipped 0.4 percent.

Operating income for the quarter was $43.7 million, down from to $45.8 million in the prior quarter.

Fiscal year 1995 results include an inventory charge of $2.3 million, attributed to rising coffee prices, during the fourth quarter. That compares to an adjustment increasing operating income by $1 million of the fourth quarter in the prior year.

For the 52 weeks of fiscal year 1995, income before an extraordinary item and the cumulative effect of an accounting change was $22 million, or $1.97 per share, compared to $8.2 million, or 76 cents per share a year ago. The prior year's results included an unusual item charge of $6.4 million.

Net income for the year was $13.2 million, or $1.18 per share, compared to a loss of $17.7 million, or $1.67 per share, in fiscal 1994. Fiscal year 1995's results include a $3 million extraordinary charge and a $5.8 million charge relating to a change in accounting principles.

Gary D. Hirsch, chairman of the board, said the fourth-quarter totals were hurt by the decrease in same-store sales.

"Sales have improved somewhat during the first half of the first quarter of fiscal 1996," he said. "However, they continue to be more sluggish than we anticipated. Accordingly, we are somewhat cautious about first-quarter results."

Penn Traffic currently operates 14 stores in the Buffalo area, having closed a supermarket on Dick Road in Cheektowaga last June. Overall, the supermarket chain reportedly has seen its Buffalo market share dip from 8 percent in late 1993 to 6 percent at the end of 1994.

That number would rank Quality fourth among the area's four major supermarket chains, behind Tops, Wegmans and Jubilee Foods, respectively.

Penn Traffic, is one of the leading food companies in the eastern United States, operating 267 supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Upstate New York, Ohio and northern West Virginia under the Quality Markets, Big Bear, Big Bear PLus, Bi-Lo Foods, Insalaco's, P&C Foods and Riverside Markets trade names.

The company's wholesale food distribution businesses serve 124 licenced franchises and 120 independent operators, in addition to a discount general merchandise business with 15 stores.

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