DELHAIZE FOCUSES ON FOUR MARKETS

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Delhaize Group here said last week it has launched "market-specific initiatives" to protect sales at its Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion chain in four Southeastern cities.During a conference call following the release of Delhaize's results for the second quarter ended June 30, Pierre-Olivier Beckers, Delhaize Group's president and chief executive officer, identified the four markets

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Delhaize Group here said last week it has launched "market-specific initiatives" to protect sales at its Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion chain in four Southeastern cities.

During a conference call following the release of Delhaize's results for the second quarter ended June 30, Pierre-Olivier Beckers, Delhaize Group's president and chief executive officer, identified the four markets as Columbia, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Richmond, Va.

While the company "experienced disappointing sales in the U.S.," largely as a result of a "difficult economic and competitive climate, particularly in the Southeast," Beckers said Delhaize believes "considerable gains are possible at Food Lion," adding that the company is focusing its efforts on reducing out-of-stocks and offering high-quality perishables, clean facilities and strong customer service.

Although Delhaize does not break down the results for its three U.S. chains, Beckers noted that sales were down at Food Lion and Kash n' Karry, Tampa, Fla. In contrast, Hannaford Bros. Markets, Scarborough, Maine, posted "continued solid performance." Companywide sales for Delhaize Group declined 4.4% to $5.2 billion for the quarter and increased 1.6% to $10.5 billion for the half. Sales at Delhaize America increased 0.7% to $3.7 billion for the quarter and rose 2.3% to $7.5 billion for the half. Comparable-store sales at Delhaize America declined 1.2% in the quarter but increased 0.1% in the half.