CEO Dick Boer said: “We continued to invest in competitiveness and gained market share in our major markets. Market conditions remained challenging, with consumers cautious in their spending and with ongoing high levels of promotional activity in both the United States and Europe.
“Sales growth in the United States was modest, reflecting declining retail price inflation and a strong sales quarter last year. Through stringent cost control we were able to deliver a solid margin performance. In the Netherlands we were pleased with a strong sales performance, as our value investments gained traction. Margins in the Netherlands were impacted by these investments, which were not fully offset by cost savings and by the inclusion of bol.com for the full quarter.
“We remain cautious in our outlook and expect market conditions to continue to be difficult. We will closely monitor the potential impact of rising food commodity costs, particularly in the United States. We are confident that we are well on track to execute our strategy and we will continue to invest in growth.”
This interim report includes 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 that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those included in such statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, expectations on market conditions, the impact of rising food commodity costs, the progress and deliverance of Ahold’s strategies and cost reduction and simplification programs, Ahold’s investment in growth, Ahold’s response to market opportunities, the expansion of Ahold’s geographic reach, the synergy from the combination of operations, and the final pension settlement expense and its recognition. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Many of these risks and uncertainties relate to factors that are beyond Ahold’s ability to control or estimate precisely, such as the effect of general economic or political conditions, fluctuations in exchange rates or interest rates, increases or changes in competition, Ahold’s ability to successfully implement and complete its plans and strategies, the benefits from and resources generated by Ahold’s plans and strategies being less than or different from those anticipated, changes in Ahold’s liquidity needs, the actions of competitors and third parties and other factors discussed in Ahold’s public filings and other disclosures. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this interim report. Ahold does not assume any obligation to update any public information or forward-looking statements in this interim report 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.”
Financial Summary Third Quarter 2012
Pierre-Olivier Beckers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Delhaize Group, commented: “Despite tough market conditions, we are seeing signs that our investments are yielding positive results, with revenues increasing and strong cash generation in the last three months. The repositioning of Food Lion continues to give us confidence for the future. In the third quarter, the repositioned stores, which account for over 60% of the Food Lion network, delivered positive comparable store sales, leading to a flat performance for the Food Lion banner when adjusted for inflation. The recent arrival of Roland Smith, who joined as CEO of Delhaize America, will help to further accelerate the ongoing transformation of our U.S. operations.”
“In Belgium, the economic and competitive environment has not improved. While we are not happy with the evolution of our market share, we are encouraged by the second consecutive quarter of positive comparable store sales growth. In addition, in Southeastern Europe & Asia, our initiatives are gaining momentum and delivering solid revenue growth coupled with improved profitability. ”
“We remain focused on improving our price competitiveness while maintaining our cash flow discipline. This approach should lead to sustainable revenue growth and the realization of shareholder value. We have made considerable progress towards realizing our free cash flow target of €500 million for 2012, generating €323 million through the first nine months of 2012. However, during the quarter, the Group’s underlying operating margin continued to be impacted by our efforts to structurally improve our price positioning across the group. We are confident that we will reach the bottom-end of our full year underlying operating profit guidance range.”