The Belgian-based retailer Delhaize Group has posted a 23.4% increase in net profit for 2005 to EUR364.9m (US$438.7m).

Net sales and other revenues rose by 4.2% to EUR18.6bn, with organic sales growth of 2.1%. At identical exchange rates, net sales and other revenues increased by 4.1%, on the back of a 4.4% increase in US sales and a 3.4% increase in Belgian revenues, including the positive impact of the acquisition of Cash Fresh in May 2005.

Delhaize Group reported that it had maintained an operating margin of 4.8%, while operating profit for the year increased by 4.0% to EUR898.0m, as a result of stronger sales and a higher gross margin.

“In 2005, we have accelerated sales growth for the third consecutive year while maintaining our strong operating profit margins,” said Delhaize Group president and CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers. “Food Lion particularly has accelerated sales momentum in the second half of 2005, using ongoing cost control, price leadership and excellent execution to deliver strong results. We plan to make 2006 our fourth consecutive year with increased sales growth through many in-store initiatives and more store openings, while maintaining our strong margins through cost control and executional excellence.”

For the fourth quarter, net sales and other revenues rose by 12.1% to EUR5.0bn on the back of a stronger US dollar. Organic sales growth was 3.4%, and net sales and other revenues rose by 5.3% at identical exchange rates.

Net profit for the fourth quarter rose by 74.5% to EUR117.0m, while operating profit rose by 33.9% to EUR 262.0m. At identical exchange rates, operating profit for the fourth quarter rose by 26.2%, the company said.