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At Ahold Delhaize’s annual general meeting, CEO Dick Boer offered an overview of the post-merger retail conglomerate’s 2016 financials, which he characterized as “a big performance in this special and intense year,” as well as its goals for the near future.
“Thanks to customer-focused strategies, smart promotions, and good store management,” pro forma net sales rose 3.4 percent to US $66 billion, driven largely by Delhaize America, said Boer, adding that the past year “was also significant because we developed and launched our Better Together strategy.” The initiative draws on such developing consumer market trends as budget-consciousness, convenience, health and wellness, and relevant personalization.
As examples of progress and innovation, Boer cited Stop & Shop’s green energy facility, “which turns inedible food into clean energy that powers one of their distribution centers”; Ahold USA’s removal of 272,000 pounds of sugar from its products - the equivalent of 30 school buses - during 2016; and Hannaford’s prototype Bedford, N.H., store with such novel features as made-to-order food for takeout or eating in, fruits and vegetables cut to customer request, and a pickup point for shopping done online. “Learnings from this great store will be deployed in other remodels,” Boer noted of the location.
Turning to Ahold Delhaize’s ecommerce brands, which experienced more than 27 percent growth in 2016, he cited Peapod, which launched its own branded line of fresh meal kits. The Better Together strategy has a 2020 goal of doubling online sales, he added.
Nine months past the merger, the company is still working on its integration, which Boer said “is going well, and we remain on track to deliver our committed [US $531 million] synergy goal in 2019, [which] will be delivered to the bottom line.”
He concluded that “our strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic gives us the opportunity to share local best practices across our network and learn from each other.”
The meeting was attended by 231 shareholders, representing around 1 billion shares.
Amsterdam-based Ahold Delhaize comprises 21 banners in 11 countries with 370,000 associates working in more than 6,500 stores.