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Family Dollar profits up 12 percent

MATTHEWS, N.C. — With sales climbing at a strong double-digit pace, lifted by continued rapid expansion, second-fiscal quarter profits at Family Dollar Stores Inc. climbed 12 percent, to $81.4 million from $72.7 million last year.

Sales at the value-pricing, neighborhood small-store retailer climbed 11.7 percent, to $1.4 billion from $1.3 billion last year. Same-store sales improved 2.2 percent, with a 3.2 percent increase in hardlines partly offset by a 1.2 percent drop in softlines.

Average gross margin improved 60 basis points, or six-tenths of a percentage point, to 33.8 percent from 33.2 percent the year before. Margins were helped by improved initial margins through better sourcing of goods and lower levels of markdowns. The reduction in markdowns came as a result of purchasing seasonal goods on a conservative basis and better allocation of those goods to the stores, said Howard R. Levine, chairman and CEO.

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