Belgian retailer Delhaize has reported sales of €18.0bn (US$23.6bn) for 2004, a slide of 4.5% compared to the previous year, reflecting the lower value of the US dollar and an additional week of sales in the US in 2003.


The company, which does most of its business in the US, said organic sales growth was 2.9%, supported by 1.5% comparable store sales growth in the US and 2.2% in Belgium. US operations contributed US$15.8bn to group sales.


“In 2004, all banners of Delhaize Group continued to focus with success on the differentiation of their store concepts, driving sustainable sales growth throughout the year,” said Pierre-Olivier Beckers, president and chief executive officer.


“We have been particularly pleased with the sales results at all the US banners and with Delhaize Belgium’s continued strong performance. In 2005, we expect to continue to improve sales performance through sales initiatives and an increased schedule of store remodelling and store openings,” he added.


Delhaize said it finished the year with 1,523 supermarkets in the US, having opened or acquired 53 stores and closed 40 during the year. In 2005, the company expects to open 50 new supermarkets in the US, including 11 relocated stores, and close 17 stores, resulting in a net increase of 22 stores to a total number of US stores by the end of 2005.


In Belgium, the company plans to enlarge its sales network by 30 stores in 2005, bringing the total to 777 stores at the end of the year.