Zaandam, The Netherlands – Ahold today published its summary report for the first quarter of 2015.
CEO Dick Boer said: "We are encouraged by the positive momentum in our sales trend, with sales growth of 3.1% excluding gas and at constant exchange rates, despite the adverse timing of Easter. We have continued to respond to the changing needs of our customers, by making further price investments, increasing and improving our assortments, expanding our store network, introducing new formats and continuing to strengthen our leading online proposition.
"In the Netherlands, Albert Heijn delivered strong sales growth, supported by successful promotions, and continued to improve its product assortment to further differentiate its offering. Albert Heijn grew market share in the Netherlands and we made further progress expanding our network in Belgium with new store openings bringing the total to 30 stores. In the U.S., we saw further benefits from our improved customer proposition, which we have continued to roll out to more stores during the quarter, resulting in an increased volume market share. In the Czech Republic, we completed the process of rebranding the 49 SPAR stores.
"Our business performance remains on track to deliver in line with full year expectations. We continue to execute our Reshaping Retail strategy, offering quality and value to our customers."
This press release includes forward-looking statements, which do not refer to historical facts but refer to expectations based on management's current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those included in such statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to statements as to Ahold's business performance, Reshaping Retail strategy, customer proposition, growing own-brand penetration across Ahold's business, restructuring of staff services at Ahold U.S.A., omni-channel strategy, acceleration of Ahold's investments in online business and the expected negative impact thereof on the Netherlands margin, the SPAR acquisition being expected to be slightly margin-dilutive and one-off costs in the Czech Republic, free cash flow, expected effect of revised IFRSs, the return of former C1000 stores to Jumbo, expected synergies from combination of operations, Ahold's ability to expand its geographical reach, the share buyback and GRO shares. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Many of these risks and uncertainties relate to factors that are beyond Ahold’s ability to control or estimate precisely, such as the effect of general economic or political conditions, fluctuations in exchange rates or interest rates, increases or changes in competition, Ahold’s ability to implement and successfully complete its plans and strategies, the benefits from and resources generated by Ahold’s plans and strategies being less than or different from those anticipated, changes in Ahold’s liquidity needs, the actions of competitors and third parties and other factors discussed in Ahold’s public filings and other disclosures. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Ahold does not assume any obligation to update any public information or forward-looking statements in this press release to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as may be required by applicable laws. Outside the Netherlands, Koninklijke Ahold N.V., being its registered name, presents itself under the name of “Royal Ahold” or simply "Ahold."
Frans Muller, President and Chief Executive Officer of Delhaize Group, commented: “In the first quarter, revenues were resilient at Delhaize America with 2.5% comparable store sales growth despite a meaningful reduction in inflation as the quarter progressed. At Food Lion, we are on track with the roll out of our “Easy, Fresh & Affordable” strategic initiative in an additional 160 stores.”
“In Belgium, following the agreement with our social partners on the Transformation Plan on February 23, we are implementing significant changes required to revitalize our business. During the first quarter, our profitability was impacted by investments in prices, promotions and marketing expenses but we saw a gradual improvement in our revenue and market share trends. We expect revenues and profitability to improve in the second half of the year. In Southeastern Europe, while our comparable store sales evolution was slightly negative, the trend improved throughout the region.”
“Our focus for the Group is unchanged: continue to grow sales and improve market share in our core markets, funded by operational efficiencies and continued capital discipline as reflected by S&P’s recent decision to change our Outlook from “Stable” to “Positive”.”