Delhaize said to have hired Lazard to help sell two US chains

Delhaize said to have hired Lazard to help sell two US chains

Belgium-based retailer Delhaize Group is reportedly looking to sell two US chains, Harvey's and Sweetbay.

Reuters yesterday (23 May) reported Delhaize had hired Lazard to help offload the supermarket banners.

According to the newswire, outgoing Delhaize CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers confirmed the company was looking at its options but refused to comment on whether Lazard had been appointed.

Speaking to just-food today, a spokesperson for Delhaize's US arm said: "While we don't comment on market rumours or speculation, we continually review our portfolio, as appropriate."

The US accounts for almost two-thirds of Delhaize's annual sales. However, the retailer has larger chains in the country - Food Lion and Hannaford - and is looking to expand discount format Bottom Dollar Food.

Delhaize has found the going tough in the US in recent quarters. In January last year, it announced plans to close over 100 stores in the US and withdraw its Bloom banner from the market. Underlying margins and same-store sales in the US fell in 2012; in response, Delhaize has shaken up its US management team and announced job cuts in the country. However, Delhaize has also invested in price, repositioned its Food Lion brand and expanded discount chain Bottom Dollar Food.

Earlier this month, Delhaize said comparable-store sales in the US were up almost 2% in the first quarter and margins increased.

The same day as Delhaize posted its first-quarter numbers, the retailer revealed Beckers was stepping down from the helm after 15 years in the job.