(Aug. 13) JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A 25-year retail veteran will head produce operations of Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., Jacksonville.

The company announced that its board of directors Aug. 7 elected Dennis Hanley as vice president of produce and floral merchandising for the 10th-largest U.S. grocery chain.

Hanley most recently worked as retail operations director for Woolworth’s New Zealand Ltd. He also has worked for retailers such as Kmart Corp., Troy, Mich.; The Kroger Co., Cincinnati; and Safeway Inc., Pleasanton, Calif.

Hanley earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif.

In other news, Winn-Dixie Stores saw a 175% increase in quarterly net earnings, while same-store sales increased only slightly.

Fourth-quarter net earnings for the chain’s fiscal year 2002, which ended June 26, were $52.8 million, or 37 cents a share, compared to $19.2 million, or 14 cents a share, for the fourth quarter in 2001.

Fourth-quarter sales increased $15 million, or 0.5%, from last year to $2.9 billion for 2002.

The earnings increase follows a loss the chain took after announcing the closing of 71 stores in Texas and five in Oklahoma on May 6.

Winn-Dixie Stores attributed a 1.2% increase in same-store sales for the fourth quarter by launching a customer reward card program and converting 41 stores to the chain’s SaveRite Grocery Warehouses.