Ahold Delhaize Announces Strong First Quarter Performance and Confirms 2024 Outlook

In the first quarter of 2024, our brands remained resilient in the face of ongoing economic challenges, delivering value to customers despite headwinds. Across all our brands, teams have been diligently working to counteract inflation, ensuring that affordable, healthy food options remain accessible. We’re already witnessing the positive outcomes of strategic business changes, particularly the Belgium Future Plan and previous cost-saving endeavors.

During Q1, Group net sales reached €21.7 billion, marking a 1.3% increase at constant exchange rates and a 0.4% rise at actual exchange rates. Excluding gas sales, comparable sales for the Group grew by 1.6%, with a 0.8% increase in the U.S. and a 2.8% rise in Europe.

Despite a 1.0% decline in net consumer online sales at constant exchange rates, attributed in part to the divestment of FreshDirect, this was partly offset by robust growth at Food Lion and Hannaford, along with accelerating growth at Albert Heijn.

Maintaining a steady course, our Q1 underlying operating margin remained at 4.0%, consistent with the previous year. While European performance showed improvements, there were minor declines in the U.S.

IFRS operating income for Q1 amounted to €803 million, with IFRS diluted EPS at €0.54. Notably, IFRS results were €58 million lower than underlying results, primarily due to expenses related to the Belgium Future Plan.

Q1 diluted underlying EPS stood at €0.59, representing a modest decrease of 2.9% compared to the previous year at actual rates.

Looking ahead, we reaffirm our 2024 full-year outlook, which includes a target underlying operating margin of ≥4.0%, underlying EPS around 2023 levels, free cash flow of approximately €2.3 billion, and net capital expenditures of about €2.2 billion.

Based in Zaandam, the Netherlands, Ahold Delhaize, a leading global food retail group, released its first-quarter results today. The report utilizes alternative performance measures such as comparable sales excluding gasoline, net consumer online sales, underlying operating income, and related margin, among others. For further details on these measures and their reconciliation, please refer to Note 13 in the interim financial statements.

To ensure consistency, comparative figures have been adjusted to align with the current year’s presentation (see Note 2 in the Interim Report).

Frans Muller, President and CEO of Ahold Delhaize, commented, “I am pleased to report a stable first quarter, positioning us well to achieve our objectives for the year despite persistent challenges in the external environment. Our brands have been proactive in delivering value, quality, and savings to customers, leveraging their own-brand assortments and omnichannel strategies.”

Muller further highlighted the Group’s performance, emphasizing the positive growth in net sales and comparable sales, particularly in Europe. He underscored ongoing initiatives to streamline operations, citing the progress made with the Belgium Future Plan as a significant milestone. Additionally, Muller stressed the importance of maintaining margins while investing in customer value propositions, particularly in regions affected by inflation and SNAP benefit reductions.

In the U.S., the focus on efficient online fulfillment models has resulted in a 4.7% growth in online sales during the first quarter. Similar efforts are underway in Europe, where partnerships and innovative offerings are driving growth in grocery online sales.

As part of the commitment to sustainability, Ahold Delhaize brands have launched various initiatives, including climate hubs to reduce carbon emissions. Muller expressed confidence in the company’s outlook for 2024, highlighting the upcoming unveiling of a refreshed strategic plan on May 23.

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