Belgian based retailer Delhaize today (Thursday) announced a rise in net earnings to €211.5m (US$284.2m) in 2004, compared with €171.3m in 2003.

Sales were €17.97bn in 2004, compared with €18.82bn in 2003, although the company said there had been a3.9% rise in sales adjusted for the fall in the dollar and the extra sales week in the US in 2003. .

“Delhaize Group realized an excellent performance in 2004,” said Pierre-Olivier Beckers, president and CEO. “In 2005, Delhaize Group will remain dedicated to reinforcing its operations by further increasing the differentiation of its store concepts and focusing on executional excellence.

“We are also pleased with the acquisition of Cash Fresh in Belgium. Cash Fresh represents an excellent geographic fit with our Belgian business and reinforces our position in our historic home market,” he said. Cash Fresh is a profitable chain of 43 supermarkets mainly in northeastern Belgium. The acquisition will bring Delhaize Belgium’s store count to 820 in Belgium, the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and Germany at the end of 2005.