Zaandam, The Netherlands – Ahold today published its summary report for the third quarter of 2015. Highlights of the third quarter are:
- Strong sales performance, with Group sales up 13.0% (up 1.7% at constant exchange rates)
- Sales excluding gas up 3.3% at constant exchange rates
- Underlying operating income increased to €319 million; underlying operating margin at 3.8%
Strong free cash flow of €230 million, up €160 million
- Identical sales in the Netherlands up 4.0%, reflecting positive sales trends at Albert Heijn and in online
- Sales in the United States excluding gas up 2.1%, reflecting an improved customer proposition
- Underlying sales trends in the United States continued to improve, with identical sales growth of 1.8% excluding gas, adjusted for competitive disruption last year
- Agreement reached for Stop & Shop to acquire 25 A&P stores in New York
Analyst conference call - webcast
CEO Dick Boer said: “The Group delivered a strong performance during the third quarter and we are pleased to report an increase in sales, operating income and net income, as well as a strong free cash flow. We made further progress against our strategic priorities and the investments in our brands are strengthening our customer proposition across all of our markets. In recognition of our continued commitment to responsible retailing, Ahold was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the seventh consecutive year.
"In the Netherlands, the strength of the Albert Heijn brand continues to drive positive sales trends and we were particularly pleased with the increase in identical store sales. Our strategy to focus on quality and assortment improvements led to an increase in transactions and market share gains. Our market-leading Dutch online businesses, Albert Heijn Online and bol.com, grew net consumer sales by over 30%, and in the United States, Peapod’s performance improved, reporting double-digit sales growth. We rolled out our enhanced customer proposition in the U.S. to additional stores during the quarter and as a result, we saw an improved underlying sales performance across our divisions.
"Looking ahead, we are on track to deliver a full year performance in line with expectations and to complete the proposed merger with Delhaize by mid-2016. This combination will create a stronger international food retailer for the benefit of our customers, associates and shareholders."
No offer or solicitation
This communication is being made in connection with, among others, the proposed business combination transaction between Koninklijke Ahold N.V. also known as Royal Ahold (“Ahold”), and Delhaize Group (“Delhaize”).This communication is not intended to and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to subscribe for or buy or an invitation to purchase or subscribe for any securities or the solicitation of any vote or approval in any jurisdiction in connection with the proposed transaction or otherwise, nor shall there be any sale, issuance or transfer of securities in any jurisdiction in contravention of applicable law. No offer of securities shall be made except by means of a prospectus meeting the requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and applicable Dutch, Belgian and other European regulations. This communication is not for release, publication or distribution, in whole or in part, in or into, directly or indirectly, any jurisdiction in which such release, publication or distribution would be unlawful.
Important additional information will be filed with the SEC
In connection with the proposed transaction, Ahold will file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) a registration statement on Form F-4 that will include a prospectus. The prospectus will be mailed to the holders of American Depositary Shares of Delhaize and holders of ordinary shares of Delhaize (other than holders of ordinary shares of Delhaize that are non-U.S. persons (as defined in the applicable rules of the SEC). INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE PROSPECTUS AND OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED OR TO BE FILED WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT AHOLD, DELHAIZE, THE TRANSACTION AND RELATED MATTERS. Investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of the prospectus and other documents filed with the SEC by Ahold and Delhaize through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. In addition, investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of the prospectus and other documents filed by Ahold with the SEC by contacting Ahold Investor Relations at email@example.com or by calling +31 88 659 5213, and will be able to obtain free copies of the prospectus and other documents filed by Delhaize by contacting Investor Relations Delhaize Group at Investor@delhaizegroup.com or by calling +32 2 412 2151.
This communication contains forward-looking statements, which do not refer to historical facts but refer to expectations based on management's current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, or events to differ materially from those included in such statements. These statements or disclosures may discuss goals, intentions and expectations as to future trends, plans, events, results of operations or financial condition, or state other information relating to Ahold, based on current beliefs of management as well as assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management. Forward-looking statements generally will be accompanied by words such as “anticipate," "believe," "plan," "could," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "guidance," "intend," "may," "possible," "potential," "predict," "project" or other similar words, phrases or expressions. Many of these risks and uncertainties relate to factors that are beyond Ahold’s control. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: the occurrence of any change, event or development that could give rise to the termination of the merger agreement; the ability to obtain the approval of the transaction by Ahold’s and Delhaize’s shareholders; the risk that the necessary regulatory approvals may not be obtained or may be obtained subject to conditions that are not anticipated; failure to satisfy other closing conditions with respect to the transaction on the proposed terms and time frame; the possibility that the transaction does not close when expected or at all; the risks that the new businesses will not be integrated successfully or promptly or that the combined company will not realize the expected benefits from the transaction; Ahold’s ability to successfully implement and complete its plans and strategies and to meet its targets; risks related to disruption of management time from ongoing business operations due to the proposed transaction; the benefits from Ahold’s plans and strategies being less than anticipated; risks related to disruption of management time from ongoing business operations due to the proposed transaction; the effect of the announcement or completion of the proposed transaction on the ability of Ahold to retain customers and retain and attract employees who are integral to the success of the business; maintain relationships with suppliers, and on their operating results and businesses generally; litigation relating to the transaction; the effect of general economic or political conditions; fluctuations in exchange rates or interest rates; increases or changes in competition; changes in Ahold’s liquidity needs; the actions of competitors and third parties business and IT continuity; collective bargaining; distinctiveness; competitive advantage and economic condition; information security; legislative and regulatory environment and litigation risks; product safety; pension plan funding; strategic projects; responsible retailing; insurance and unforeseen tax liabilities and other factors discussed in Ahold’s public filings and other disclosures.
Furthermore, this communication contains Ahold forward-looking statements as to its strategy to focus on quality and assortment improvements, outlook for the business, including but not limited to identical sales growth, delivery of a full-year performance in line with expectations, improvement of its customer proposition, the purchase and conversion of A&P stores as part of its acquisition by Stop & Shop New York Metro, continued investments in strengthening its leading position as an online retailer, initiatives to improve the performance of compact hypermarkets in Czech Republic, free cash flow, gross capital expenditure, including but not limited to the capital required for the conversion of the acquired A&P stores in the United States, the effect of improvements in accounting standards on the consolidated financial statements of Ahold and goodwill.
The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. Investors and shareholders are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this communication. Ahold does not assume any obligation to update any public information or forward-looking statements in this communication to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as may be required by applicable laws.
Outside the Netherlands, Koninklijke Ahold N.V., being its registered name, presents itself under the name of "Royal Ahold" or simply "Ahold."