U.S. online sales increased 26.3%
“We saw a strong overall performance at our U.S. brands, particularly at Food Lion and Hannaford,” Ahold Delhaize president and chief executive officer Frans Muller said in a statement. “Stop & Shop is operating in a challenging sales environment, but we are encouraged by improving transactions as we move into the fourth quarter. Our ‘Re-imagine Stop & Shop’ program is off to a good start, and we are pleased with the sales uplifts seen in the 21 remodeled Long Island stores, which are performing in line with our expectations.”
Muller noted that U.S. comparable sales excluding gasoline were up 1.8% during the quarter. That included a 0.3% benefit from spending associated with Hurricane Dorian. Excluding the net impact from Hurricane Dorian this year and Hurricane Florence last year, comparable sales excluding gasoline were up approximately 2% in the third quarter.
“Comparable sales were strong in light of challenging prior year comparisons,” Muller said. “We were encouraged to see the two-year stacked comparable sales growth accelerated to 4.5% in the third quarter of 2019, adjusted for weather, versus 3.3% in the second quarter of 2019, adjusted for both the strike and calendar shift impacts. In addition, our online business in the U.S. grew by 26.3% at constant exchange
rates in the quarter, giving us confidence that we can achieve over 20% growth in U.S. online sales in 2019.”
Net sales for the company as a whole increased 2.9% at constant exchange rates, reaching 16.7 billion euros ($18.5 billion) for the quarter. Ahold Delhaize also reported net income of 453 million euros, down 1.6% compared to the prior year period. (The decline was 4.1% at constant exchange rates.)
Muller was upbeat about the company’s performance.
“We continue to make progress on the execution of our Leading Together strategy,” he said. “We are well underway with our Save for Our Customers program, which is now expected to deliver 600 million euros in 2019, higher than our previous target of 540 million euros. We achieved our goal of having more than 600 Click and Collect points in the U.S. by year-end, ahead of schedule, in October. Our fresh kitchen and culinary innovation center in Rhode Island, which will test new fresh own-brand food concepts and process fresh fruit and vegetables, is now ramping up. In the U.S. and Europe, we continue to innovate by testing various forms of frictionless payment.
“We remain focused on health and sustainability, in line with our purpose: ‘Eat well. Save time. Live better.’ We recently announced a global goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 as part of the ’10x20x30′ initiative, which brings together 10 of the world’s largest food retailers to engage with 20 of their priority suppliers to halve food loss and waste by 2030.”
Looking ahead, the company expects earnings per share growth for the year to be in the low single digits, due to the effects of the strike in the second quarter. The company expects about 2 billion euros in capital expenditures for the year.