Delhaize reports good growth in the Belgian and US markets

Delhaize reports good growth in the Belgian and US markets

Shares in Delhaize Group rose today (23 January) after the Belgium-based retailer booked higher sales for the fourth quarter of 2013, with its performance at home and in the US, its largest market, beat expectations.

Fourth-quarter revenue grew 0.1%, or by 3% at identical exchange rates. Comparable-store sales in the US rose 2.8%. In Belgium, comparable-store sales were up 2.4%.

"Our fourth quarter 2013 sales were strong both in the US and in Belgium," president and CEO Frans Muller said.

"In the US, where volume growth continued to be positive, we were especially pleased with Food Lion's momentum. Despite the ongoing competitive trading conditions, our operations in Belgium delivered solid year-end sales."

However, comparable-store sales in south-eastern Europe dipped 0.6%. Muller said the performance was "good" but noted weakness in Serbia.

"In the face of a challenging economy in Southeastern Europe our businesses in Greece and Romania posted good sales growth while Serbia's performance remained below expectations," he said.

The group generated preliminary unaudited underlting profits of approximately EU770m.

Going forward, Muller said efforts to grow revenue by improving its customer proposition would be the focus.

"Additionally, we will seek to further reduce complexity and costs, remain disciplined with respect to capital allocation and ultimately continue to deliver healthy free cash flow."