Wholesale distribution company HD Supply reported today that its net loss shrank nearly two-thirds to $99 million in the the fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 31 from a $267 million loss in the year-earlier period. Sales rose 3.2% to $1.99 billion.

Gross profit increased 6.4% to $548 million from $515 million, the Atlanta-based company said in a news release The operating income swung to a $38 million profit from a year-earlier $218 million loss, primarily because 2009's fiscal third quarter included a $224 million charge for goodwill impairment.

Hefty interest expenses--$153 million in this year's third quarter, $148 million last year, helped lead to a loss from continuing operations before income taxes of $114 million vs. a year-earlier $363 million loss.

"In the face of continued economic headwinds, the third quarter's improved results reflect HD Supply's initiatives to accelerate sales and grow market share with unparalleled customer service," CEO Joe DeAngelo said in the statement. "These measurable results and the teams' corresponding profitable growth momentum position the company well for immediate and long-term success."

HD Supply provides a wide range of products and services to professional customers in the infrastructure and energy, maintenance, repair and improvement, and specialty construction markets. It is one of the largest wholesale distributors in North America with approximately 765 locations.