Ahold Delhaize reports sales growth in Q4
Zaandam, the Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize today reported consolidated net sales of $19.6 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 1.6 percent at constant exchange rates compared to the fourth quarter of last year.
Overall the business delivered a solid performance in the fourth quarter, resulting in a net sales growth of 2.5 percent on a pro forma basis, at constant exchange rates, the company stated in a press release. For the full year 2017, pro forma net sales reached $77.7 billion, up 1.7 percent at constant exchange rates.
Sales performance at Ahold USA was in line with the previous quarter, with comparable sales growth of 0.6 percent (excluding gasoline) and slightly improved after adjusting for weather and holiday shifts compared to the previous quarter, Ahold Delhaize reported. Market share is expected to be stable compared to last year. Price inflation at 1.1 percent was broadly in line with the previous quarter.
At Delhaize America, comparable sales grew by 1.5 percent, with both Food Lion and Hannaford reporting positive comparable sales growth. Market share is expected to increase compared to last year, according to the company. Food Lion continued to benefit from the roll-out of the "Easy, Fresh and Affordable" program in the Charlotte, N.C., market last year and the Richmond, Va., and Greensboro, N.C., markets this year, Ahold Delhaize stated. Price inflation was at 0.7 percent, broadly similar to the previous quarter.
The Netherlands-based banners of Ahold Delhaize “had a strong performance,” the company noted in the release, with 6.0 percent comparable sales growth compared to an outstanding quarter last year, with a positive calendar impact at year end 2017. Albert Heijn ran “successful commercial campaigns and had a very strong holiday season, both in the supermarkets and online, increasing its full year market share compared to last year,” Ahold Delhaize said. Price inflation was 2.8 percent, slightly higher than the previous quarter.
In Belgium, comparable sales for the quarter were flat versus last year, yet improved, adjusted for the calendar impact. Affiliates and Luxembourg “continued their solid performance,” and full year market share is expected to be broadly in line with last year, the company said. Price inflation in Belgium was 0.9 percent, broadly in line with the previous quarter.
In Central and Southeastern Europe, comparable sales growth was 0.3 percent (excluding gasoline). Strong sales performance in the region was offset by negative sales growth in Greece where the sales performance reflected a normalization of market circumstances since the second quarter this year.
“For the full year 2017, we expect pro forma underlying operating margin for the group to be 3.9 percent, in line with guidance,” Ahold Delhaize reported. “Free cash flow delivery is expected to be significantly ahead of expectations, due to improved working capital performance, capital expenditure slightly lower than forecast, and higher dividends from joint ventures.”