Delhaize Sees Fiscal 2014 Improvement

Delhaize Group, the Belgium-based company that operates Hannaford Bros., Food Lion and other supermarket operations in the eastern United States, reported that group revenue for the 2014 fiscal year gained 3.9% at identical exchange rates including the 53rd week in the United States. Group revenue advanced 2.6% at identical exchange rates excluding the 53rd week in the U.S.

Operating profit came in at Euro 764 million, or about U.S. $868 million, including the 53rd week in the U.S. and €739 million, or about U.S. $840 million, excluding that week.

Frans Muller, Delhaize Group, president and CEO, said in announcing the operating results, “In 2014, we made substantial progress in a number of areas and believe the strategy announced in March of 2014 has resonated with all stakeholders. While we recognize there is still significant work to be done to achieve our ambitions and goals, I am confident in our team´s ability to deliver. Our preliminary unaudited group underlying operating profit stood at Euro 739 million for 2014, excluding the 53rd week in the U.S., driven by strong sales growth and a relatively stable underlying operating margin at Delhaize America. We generated an operating free cash flow of approximately Euro 585 million.

“Our fourth quarter revenues at Delhaize America were solid, partly helped by inflation and both Food Lion and Hannaford reported positive real sales growth. In Belgium our revenues and results were both negatively impacted by disruptions in our stores and in our distribution network. We have the ambition to reach a final agreement with our social partners on the Transformation Plan negotiations soon. In Southeastern Europe, a difficult consumer environment in Greece and Serbia resulted in negative comparable store sales growth.

“For 2015, our focus will be to further roll-out the Easy, Fresh and Affordable strategy at Food Lion and to implement the Transformation Plan in Belgium, both initiatives focused on the customer. We will also seek to accelerate growth in selected markets. Finally, we will continue to be disciplined with respect to operating costs, capital allocation and working capital.”