AMSTERDAM — A repositioned Ahold is holding up well in a difficult economy. The retailer here on Monday reported increases in sales and net profits for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 28, with U.S. chains Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover each posting their best quarterly identical-store sales in five years.
In an interview with SN yesterday, Larry Benjamin, chief operating officer of Ahold USA, credited its performance in the U.S. — where sales grew by 3.9% in the quarter and 4% for the year — to the effects of new branding programs and an effective mix of pricing and promotions that allowed the company to ease up on promotions and expand profits in the fourth quarter.
“Given the remarkable changes in the economy, we really haven’t anything particularly striking or off-trend other than a shift toward value and private label — but that’s a trend we’ve seen for a long time,” Benjamin said. “But we’ve had good numbers on trips and good responsiveness to our everyday prices, and we were able to reduce promotional spending at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover during the quarter, which was counterintuitive. But we were able to drive IDs off our everyday pricing.”
Stop & Shop and Giant Landover combined for quarterly sales of $4.0 billion, up 2.8% from the same period last year. Identical-store sales improved by 2.3% at Stop & Shop and by 1.1% at Giant-Landover. Giant-Carlisle sales improved by 7.9% during the quarter to $1.1 billion, with identical-store sales up by 5.4%. Quarterly ID sales at Giant and Stop & Shop were their highest in five years, officials said, and operating income at the stores improved by 68.3%.
Overall, Ahold posted sales of $8.8 billion and net income of $359 million.
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