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Ahold has reported a 21.4 percent increase in fourth-quarter group sales to 9.8 billion euros ($10.7 billion), and a 4.3 percent increase in fourth-quarter sales excluding gas. The Amsterdam-based company’s online sales growth continued to accelerate, with Q4 adjusted net consumer sales up 29.1 percent.
The retail conglomerate further posted net annual sales of 38 billion euros, attributing the result to “excellent store operations, especially during the holiday season, and a strong increase in consumer online sales.
"With a sharp focus on supporting our great local brands and investing to serve the rapidly changing interests and needs of our customers, we have made very good progress and achieved strong operating and financial results for the fourth quarter and the year,” affirmed Ahold CEO Dick Boer. “We challenged ourselves to innovate faster, to bring our customers fresher products in new and different ways, and to deliver greater value. This progress was supported by reinvesting the substantial savings achieved through our company-wide Simplicity program. We are pleased with the response from our customers and appreciate the continued great work of our associates, which led to robust sales performance, market share gains and an increase in group operating income for the year.”
Added Boer: “In the United States, we grew sales excluding gas by 4.1 percent, adjusted for an additional week. We continue to make good progress with our investments in quality and price, highlighted by growth in identical sales and market share gains, primarily in the New York metro market, where we further strengthened our position with the successful conversion of 25 former A&P stores.” Ahold's U.S. store banners are Giant Food Stores, Martin's Food Markets, Giant, and Stop & Shop.
He went on to note that the company’s "online performance was also strong, with a nearly 30 percent increase in consumer sales in the fourth quarter,” pointing out that Peapod remains a leading online grocer in its market area.
Additionally, U.S. own-brand assortment penetration grew 40 basis points to 38 percent on a full-year basis. More than 1,200 new products were developed and launched during the year, including Ahold's first brand to span continents: the Dutch Etos line of HBC products. The company’s natural and organic Nature’s Promise brand continued to show strong double-digit sales growth in the fourth quarter, introducing another 75 products, for a total of more than 800.