Delhaize posted a 10% drop in first-quarter profits today (7 May) as the weak dollar dented earnings at the Belgium-based retail group.

The company’s operating profit dropped 10.4% to EUR205.7m (US$318.6m), down from EUR229.6m last year

Excluding the impact of currency exchange, the retailer would only have seen a 0.4% drop year-on-year.

About 70% of Delhaize’s profits are generated in the US, where it operates 1,570 stores under the Food Lion, Hannaford and Sweetbay banners.

In dollar terms, the group’s US operating profit rose 0.2%. However, when converted to euros it dropped 12.3%, declining to EUR160.9m. Like-for-like sales increased 3.5%, the company said.

In Belgium, profit fell 8.3% to EUR40m, despite same-store-sales growth of 2%.

Delhaize president and CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers said the group had managed to keep its shoppers loyal despite the poor economic climate.

“In this increasingly uncertain economic environment, all of our operating companies have focused successfully on keeping their customers loyal to their stores, providing strong revenue growth in the first quarter. Our competitive pricing and growing private-label offering in particular have been instrumental in assuring sales momentum,” he said.

Delhaize maintained its full-year forecast for EBIT growth of 6-8%, based on a constant exchange rate, with earnings growth to be significantly weighted towards the second half.