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Whole Foods Q1 profit jumps 24%

Austin, Texas -- Whole Foods Market Inc. reported that its first-quarter net income rose 24% to $146 million, exceeding expectations, on stronger revenue. But the grocer narrowed its revenue forecast and said its earnings growth may slow through the remainder of the year amid higher store-opening costs and plans to increase its selection of lower-priced products.

Total sales increased nearly 14% to $3.86 billion for the 16-week period that ended Jan. 20. Same-store sales were up 7.2% for the quarter.

Whole Foods opened 10 stores in the first quarter and has opened one store so far in the second quarter. It plans to open five additional stores in the current quarter.  

The company said it recently signed 11 new leases averaging 38,800 sq. ft. in size. These stores are scheduled to open in fiscal year 2014 and beyond.
   
The retailer also closed on the purchase of six locations from Johnnie's Foodmaster on Nov.30, which expands its presence in the Boston area. It is remodeling the stores and plans to reopen them under the Whole Foods Market banner in its 2013 fiscal year.
 
"We opened a record number of stores and delivered another quarter of strong sales and earnings growth," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "We are well-positioned to internally fund our expansion plans and have the pipeline and infrastructure in place for square footage growth to accelerate through 2014 and hopefully beyond."