Dick Boer provided comment on Ahold Delhaize's strong fourth quarter, which included continued market expansion and raised dividends for 2017 up 10.5% to €0.63 ($0.77) and consolidated net sales of €15.8 billion ($19.27 billion), the details of which you can read here.
"2017 was the first full year as Ahold Delhaize, one in which we substantially completed the integration. We delivered synergies ahead of schedule and continued to show underlying operating margin expansion with stable or increasing market share in our major markets,” Dick revealed. “We grew our online consumer sales by more than 20%, with already €1.2 billion ($1.46 billion) sales in food online. In 2017 we realized €2.8 billion ($3.4 billion) online consumer sales and are well on track realizing nearly €5 billion ($6.1 billion) by 2020. We are expanding our digital capabilities in all our brands and are rolling out successful customer loyalty programs. In 2017, we sent out close to 2.5 billion personalized offers, which we expect to increase significantly in 2018.”
With more convenient online shopping and increased healthier offerings, including organic and locally-grown, the company hopes to better attract consumers.
"Both Ahold USA and Delhaize America reported strong underlying operating margins, driven by synergies. Inflation remained at low levels and volumes at Food Lion continued to benefit from the implementation of its ‘Easy, Fresh and Affordable’ program that has now been rolled out to more than half of its store base. Hannaford reported its 15th consecutive quarter with positive comparable sales growth,” Dick explained.
After strong supermarket and online sales performances in the Netherlands, and new leadership in Belgium, Ahold Delhaize has made good progress on its Better Together strategy; the company has already saved €268 million ($327 million).
"In 2017, we delivered a strong free cash flow of €1.9 billion ($2.3 billion), allowing us to continue to invest in our store network, grow our omni-channel offering, and further develop digital capabilities, providing customers with a unique and competitively priced offer. We will return a record €2 billion ($2.44 billion) through our share buyback program for 2018, while maintaining our strong financial foundation and commitment to continually invest across our business,” Dick said. “We are pleased to propose a €0.63 ($0.77) dividend to our shareholders, an increase of 10.5% compared to 2016, reflecting our ambition of sustainable growth of the dividend per share."
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