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Ahold Delhaize's Food Lion continued to benefit from the rollout of the "Easy, Fresh and Affordable" program.

Ahold Delhaize closes out fiscal 2018 with sales gains

Global food retailer reports ‘good momentum’ in U.S. sales

Net sales at Ahold Delhaize rose at constant exchange rates for the 2018 fourth quarter and fiscal year, including improved performance in the company’s U.S. retail grocery business.

In a trading statement released Wednesday, Ahold Delhaize said sales totaled €16.55 billion ($14.51 billion U.S.) for the quarter, up 5% (3% in constant currency) from €15.76 billion ($13.38 billion U.S.) a year earlier.

Net consumer online sales in the period surged 27.3% to €1.1 billion ($972.4 million) from €872 million ($740.4 million), the Zaandam, Netherlands-based retailer said.

Ahold Delhaize USA saw fourth-quarter sales climb 5.9% (2.6% in constant currency (5.9%) to €9.80 billion ($8.59 billion) from €9.25 billion ($7.85 billion). Online sales came in at €203 million ($178 million) for the period, up 15.8% (12.1% in constant currency) from €175 million ($148.6 million) a year ago.

“Sales performance in the United States continued to show good momentum,” the retailer said. U.S. same-store sales grew 2.7% in the quarter (2.6% excluding fuel), lifted in part by more favorable weather, compared with a 1% year-over-year increase in the 2017 fourth quarter, the company reported.

“Online sales growth accelerated to 12.1% at constant exchange rates, as our food e-commerce initiatives started to gain traction at each brand,” Ahold Delhaize stated about its U.S. business in the fourth quarter. “Food Lion continued to benefit from the rollout of the ‘Easy, Fresh and Affordable’ program, now in 70% of its stores. Full-year 2018 market share across our brands is expected to have increased compared to last year.”

For the full 2018 fiscal year, Ahold Delhaize’s overall net sales dipped 0.2% to €62.79 billion ($53.22 billion U.S.) from €62.89 billion ($55.77 billion U.S.) in 2017. However, at constant exchange rates, the company recorded a 2.5% sales increase for the year.

Net consumer online sales for the year jumped 23.9% (25.3% in constant currency) to €3.51 billion ($2.97 billion) from €2.83 billion ($2.51 billion).

Overall, Ahold Delhaize finished fiscal 2018 with 6,769 stores, representing a net increase of 132 stores (222 opened or acquired, 90 closed). Ahold Delhaize USA had 1,961 stores at the year’s end, marking a net gain of one store (nine opened or acquired, eight closed). The company’s U.S. supermarket chains include Stop & Shop, Giant/Martin’s, Giant Food, Food Lion and Hannaford, as well as the Peapod online grocery unit.

Ahold Delhaize is scheduled to report full 2018 fourth-quarter and annual results on Feb. 27. For the year, the company expects underlying earnings per share from continuing operations at the higher end of its previous guidance of €1.50 to €1.60.

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