Pending merger partners Ahold and Delhaize Group on Thursday separately reported improved financial performance in the U.S., each citing previously disclosed sales improvements.
Ahold reported net profit of around $276 million (U.S.) in the fourth quarter, a 16% increase driven by a 21% increase in total revenues. Delhaize reported a quarterly profit of around $125 million (U.S.), following a loss in the same period last year. Delhaize sales were up by 9% in the quarter.
Both companies reported sales results in January, with Delhaize saying its U.S. sales of $4.4 billion improved by 2.6%, and Ahold saying sales in the U.S. improved by 4.4% to around $6.6 billion (U.S.).
The companies are in the final stages of a merger announced last year.
In a conference call Thursday, Ahold said U.S. performance was driven by market-share gains of its Giant-Carlisle and Stop & Shop-New York Metro divisions. The latter group is seeing a benefit of 10% sales volume gains at the 25 former A&P stores it acquired and converted to the Stop & Shop banner late last year, CEO Dick Boer said.
The company is also realizing benefits of its ongoing "Project Thunder" initiatives including recent resets at produce departments and bakeries chainwide. Ahold said its Peapod online division experienced double-digit sales growth in the quarter as capacity improved at its Jersey City, N.J., warehouse. Worldwide, Ahold's e-commerce businesses remain on-pace to reach a sales target of 2.5 billion euros by 2017, Boer said.
Delhaize said U.S. results were boosted by improved sales volumes at Food Lion stores under the "Easy, Fresh and Affordable" revamp. The company said Thursday that 142 additional stores would get those investments this year, which include service, price and assortment changes intended to improve basket sizes.
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