A 'strong fourth quarter and full-year performance'
Ahold Delhaize CEO Dick Boer credited “our great local brands” for what he called “a strong fourth quarter and full-year performance” for the Netherlands-based supermarket retailer in the first year of its landmark merger. The company posted a 2.8 percent sales increase of $16.3 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016, adjusted for the 53rd week in 2015, along with 3.9 percent operating margin gain. For the full year, the underlying margin jumped 3.7 percent. Ahold and the Delhaize Group merged last summer.
“2016 was not only a year where we brought together two strong food retailers. It was also a year in which our great local brands drove solid performance, serving our customers both in stores and online,”Boer said.
Boer expressed satisfaction with the company's fourth-quarter volume growth and strong margins. He added that the fourth-quarter sales rise drove "volumes while operating in a deflationary environment in the U.S.”
Commenting on Ahold USA, Boer noted that it “continued to focus on its Heading Northeast strategy by offering better value, better quality and improved service to its customers, resulting in resilient volume trends. Underlying operating margin performance was slightly better than last year, adjusted for week 53 last year, supported by ongoing cost initiatives and synergies.”
Fourth-quarter net sales at Ahold USA fell 7 percent at constant exchange rates to $5.9 billion. However, sales adjusted for the additional week in 2015 edged up 0.7 percent at constant exchange rates, compared with the year-ago period.
Meanwhile, “Delhaize America showed continued good performance at both Food Lion and Hannaford with strong volume growth, more than offsetting the impact of deflation on sales,” continued Boer. “Underlying operating margins improved, driven by the Easy, Fresh & Affordable strategic initiative and synergies.”