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    Ahold's Price Positioning Pays Off, with Q2 Sales Better than Expected

    The grocer's Stop & Shop/Giant Carlisle chains are now adding marketing and branding programs to price strategy.

    Investments in price positioning and strong promotional activities drove better-than expected sales for Amsterdam-based Ahold, which operates Stop & Shop, Giant Carlisle, and Peapod through its U.S. subsidiary Ahold USA.

    Net sales for the second quarter ending July 13 were EUR 5.8 billion (U.S. $9.02 billion), a decrease of 0.8 percent compared to last year, but a 7.3 percent increase at constant exchange rates.

    Sales at Ahold's Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover companies increased 1.7 percent to $4 billion, and identical sales increased 2.2 percent at Stop & Shop (1 percent excluding gasoline sales) and decreased 1.5 percent at Giant-Landover (1.7 percent excluding gasoline sales) - primarily due to lower pharmacy sales, the grocer said.

    The roll-out of the Value Improvement Program at the two chains remains on track, and has expanded beyond price repositioning to marketing and branding, according to Ahold.

    Giant-Carlisle sales increased 11.5 percent to $1.1 billion, with identical store sales jumping 7 percent (4.1 percent excluding gasoline sales).

    Ahold maintained its operating margin guidance for the year at 4.8 to 5.3 percent.

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