Delhaize Group has indicated a strong performance for the company's 2006 second quarter and announced a "large number of store openings" in Belgium and Greece.

Delhaize Group's president and CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers said: "Following the solid first quarter, we have seen strong sales and profit figures in the first part of the second quarter."

The Belgian retailer posted EUR18.6bn (US$23.2 bn) in net sales and other revenues and EUR364.9m in net profit during 2005. Group profit grew 12.2% during Q1 2006.

Beckers added: "In addition, we look forward to solid top-line growth during the second half of 2006 as we will start benefiting from several large impact initiatives such as the conversion of many Kash n' Karry stores into the Sweetbay concept, Food Lion's market renewal in the Washington DC market, its entry in the new market of Greenville and Spartanburg, the accelerated store opening program at Hannaford, and a large number of store openings in Belgium and Greece."

At the company's general meeting on Wednesday (24 May), Delhaize's shareholders authorised the buyback of up to 10% of the outstanding shares of the company, and approved the distribution of a EUR1.20 gross dividend. After deduction of a 25% withholding tax, the result is a net 2005 dividend of EUR0.90 per share, payable on 9 June 2006 to owners from 30 May 2006.