Aided by a focus on acquisitive growth, and a strong performance by the US dollar, Dutch supermarket group Ahold is expected to post Q3 net profits up 55% on the €167m reported in 1999.

While Ahold’s organic growth appears solid, the company has also focused heavily on acquiring new businesses to drive its foreign expansion. It was announced today (27 November) that the Spanish stock exchange authorities (CNMV) have granted permission for Ahold to purchase the remaining shares in the rapidly growing supermarket chain Superdiplo. It secured an agreement for a 68% stake in September, and now the remaining shares will be gathered by public tender offer.

This means that despite only having entered the Spanish market two years ago, Ahold now controls around 530 stores, and its yearly sales are expected to triple to reach approximately €2bn. A solid platform has also been built from which further expansion can be made.

Its 50% stake in ICA, the Scandanavian group, will also boost the company#;s European operations.

About 60% of the company#;s total sales are still derived from the US, however, and the fact that the dollar has risen about 18% against the euro since last year#;s Q3 will obviously help to boost group results. US operations were also given a leg-up by the recent US$3.6bn purchase of the country#;s second largest food service distributor, US Foodservice.

Ahold now controls over 8,000 food stores, in multi-formats, situated across four continents in 24 countries. It is also developing its position within the home delivery and e-commerce sector, and the Q3 losses of its 68% stake in online grocer are more than compensated for with annual group sales reaching €50bn.

By Clare Harman, News Journalist