Belgium supermarket operator Delhaize has said that it plans to open 44 new stores in Europe in the coming year, bringing its network to a total of 843 outlets.

Delhaize also indicated that its December sales in Central and Western Europe were "very positive", news that pushed its share price up from an open today (5 January) of EUR64.70 to EUR64.80 at time of press.

Commenting on the group's 149 year anniversary and looking to the year ahead, Delhaize's CEO and president Pierre-Olivier Beckers said that the company would sharpen its focus on core values.

"The series of anniversary events in 2007 will not only be the celebration of a great past, but also form a platform for a great future, based on our strengths: our expertise in food retailing, the continued pursuit of excellence, an explicit willingness to innovate and, most of all, a genuine care for people. Building on these drivers, we will remain committed to an outstanding service and quality offering to our customers, an attractive workplace to our associates, growing value to our shareholders and continued support to the communities in which we operate," he commented.