Ahold Delhaize has announced consolidated net sales of €15.8bn for the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 1.6 per cent at constant exchange rates compared to the fourth quarter of last year.
Overall the business delivered a solid performance in the fourth quarter, resulting in a net sales growth of 2.5 per cent on a pro forma basis, at constant exchange rates.
For the full year 2017, pro forma net sales reached €62.7bn, up 1.7 per cent at constant exchange rates.
Sales performance at Ahold USA was in line with the previous quarter, with comparable sales growth of 0.6 per cent (excluding gasoline), and slightly improved after adjusting for weather and holiday shifts compared to the previous quarter.
At Delhaize America, comparable sales grew by 1.5 per cent with both Food Lion and Hannaford reporting positive comparable sales growth, and market share is expected to increase compared to last year.
Food Lion continued to benefit from the roll-out of the "Easy, Fresh and Affordable" programme in the Charlotte market last year and the Richmond and Greensboro markets this year.
The Netherlands had a strong performance with 6.0 per cent comparable sales growth, compared to an "outstanding quarter" last year, with a positive calendar impact at year end 2017.
In Belgium, comparable sales for the quarter were flat versus last year yet improved adjusted for the calendar impact, while affiliates and Luxembourg continued their solid performance.
The group said that In Central and Southeastern Europe, comparable sales growth was 0.3 per cent (excluding gasoline).
"For the full year 2017, we expect pro forma underlying operating margin for the group to be 3.9 per cent, in line with guidance," the group stated. "Free cash flow delivery is expected to be significantly ahead of expectations, due to improved working capital performance, capital expenditure slightly lower than forecast, and higher dividends from joint ventures."