CEO Dick Boer said: “This quarter we reported improved sales trends in the United States and the Netherlands while our margin was stable versus the prior quarter, excluding the impact of the SPAR acquisition.
“In the United States, the rollout of our program to improve quality, service and value for our customers is progressing well. By the end of this quarter, the program was active in over half of our stores.
"In the Netherlands, Albert Heijn's sales performance improved, while the margin in the Netherlands was in line with the previous quarter, adjusted for increased investments in growth at bol.com. In the Czech Republic, we are well underway with the integration of the SPAR business. We are pleased with the performance of the stores that have been converted to the Albert brand and expect to have all stores rebranded by the end of the first quarter next year.
"We expect that ongoing investments in our customer proposition and further development of our formats and assortment will continue to result in improving sales trends."
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 statements as to Ahold's investments in value and customer offering, rollout of its U.S. program to improve quality, service and value, rebranding SPAR to Albert and the conversion of supermarkets in the Czech Republic, sales trends, margins, underlying operating income, free cash flow, Reshaping Retail strategy, particularly as to strong brands, market positions, balance sheet and online business, and the court approval, size, funding and timing of the Waterbury settlement. 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 implement and successfully 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 2014
Frans Muller, President and Chief Executive Officer of Delhaize Group, commented: “While our overall performance in the third quarter met our expectations, results were decidedly mixed among our key regions. In the U.S., comparable store sales growth was very strong at 5.3%, resulting from both continued good momentum at Food Lion and favourable, albeit temporary, competitive dynamics at Hannaford. These positive volume trends resulted in a 10% increase in our U.S. underlying operating profit. In August, we have launched the first 31 Food Lion stores deploying our new “Easy, Fresh & Affordable” strategy. Although it is too early to draw conclusions, they are experiencing good initial customer response. We will roll out the next 45 stores next week.”
“In Belgium, results were impacted by both weak summer trading and uncertainty caused by the June announcement of the Transformation Plan. While we believe this impact is temporary in nature, disruptions have persisted and conditions have deteriorated in the fourth quarter. We remain determined to make our business more sustainable in the long term and continue to be in a dialogue with our social partners to realize this. In Southeastern Europe, we faced weak economic conditions in our markets and deflation in Serbia, both of which have continued in the fourth quarter. We remain focused on our store expansion plans to increase our strong and growing market positions.”