Net sales of €15.8 billion, up 1.6% at constant exchange rates
Pro forma net sales of €15.8 billion, up 2.5% at constant exchange rates
Comparable sales up 0.6% at Ahold USA and 1.5% at Delhaize America
Strong sales performance in the Netherlands with comparable sales up 6.0%
Online net consumer sales up 23.2% at constant exchange rates in the fourth quarter and reached €2.8 billion for the full year 2017
Expected full year 2017 pro forma underlying operating margin of 3.9%, in line with guidance
Expected full year 2017 free cash flow to be significantly ahead of expectations
Zaandam, the Netherlands - January 24, 2018 - Ahold Delhaize today announced consolidated net sales of €15.8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 1.6% at constant exchange rates compared to the fourth quarter of last year.
Overall the business delivered a solid performance in the fourth quarter, resulting in a net sales growth of 2.5% on a pro forma basis, at constant exchange rates. For the full year 2017, pro forma net sales reached €62.7 billion, up 1.7% at constant exchange rates.
Sales performance at Ahold USA was in line with the previous quarter, with comparable sales growth of 0.6% (excluding gasoline), and slightly improved after adjusting for weather and holiday shifts compared to the previous quarter. Market share is expected to be stable compared to last year. Price inflation at 1.1% was broadly in line with the previous quarter. Giant Carlisle reported a strong quarter, with new Beer & Wine locations driving increased transactions.
At Delhaize America, comparable sales grew by 1.5%, with both Food Lion and Hannaford reporting positive comparable sales growth, and market share is expected to increase compared to last year. Food Lion continued to benefit from the roll-out of the "Easy, Fresh and Affordable" program in the Charlotte market last year and the Richmond and Greensboro markets this year. Price inflation was at 0.7%, broadly similar to the previous quarter.
The Netherlands had a strong performance with 6.0% comparable sales growth, compared to an outstanding quarter last year, with a positive calendar impact at year end 2017. Albert Heijn ran successful commercial campaigns and had a very strong holiday season, both in the supermarkets and online, increasing its full year market share compared to last year. Price inflation was 2.8%, slightly higher than the previous quarter. Bol.com reported 29.8% growth in net consumer sales this quarter, resulting in €1.6 billion net consumer sales for 2017.
In Belgium, comparable sales for the quarter were flat versus last year yet improved adjusted for the calendar impact. Affiliates and Luxembourg continued their solid performance and full year market share is expected to be broadly in line with last year. Price inflation in Belgium was 0.9%, broadly in line with the previous quarter.
In Central and Southeastern Europe, comparable sales growth was 0.3% (excluding gasoline). Strong sales performance in the region was offset by negative sales growth in Greece where the sales performance reflected a normalization of market circumstances since the second quarter this year.
For the full year 2017, we expect pro forma underlying operating margin for the group to be 3.9%, in line with guidance. Free cash flow delivery is expected to be significantly ahead of expectations, due to improved working capital performance, capital expenditure slightly lower than forecast, and higher dividends from joint ventures.
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