Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Ahold today announced consolidated net sales of €7.8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 7.5% compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. At constant exchange rates net sales were up 5.1%.
For the full year 2012, consolidated net sales were €32.8 billion, an increase of 8.5% compared to 2011. At constant exchange rates net sales were up 3.5%.
In the United States sales were up 4.3%. Our strong performance was partly driven by the exceptional efforts of our teams during Hurricane Sandy, which enabled our stores to remain open and to serve our customers during these difficult times. The positive sales impact of Sandy was partly offset by a negative calendar impact due to the timing of year end. We continued to gain market share in all our divisions. The 15 Genuardi’s stores we acquired in 2012 performed in line with expectations. Furthermore we opened another four pick-up points, bringing the total to eight in the United States.
The sales growth of 7.7% in the Netherlands was mainly driven by progress on our growth initiatives, including the addition of 15 former C1000/Jumbo stores that were converted during the second half of the year. Identical sales growth was impacted this quarter by the timing of year end and a disappointing performance from Etos in a very competitive health and beauty segment. Albert Heijn was able to further increase its market share. We opened our first three pick-up points for online grocery shopping in the Netherlands, and their initial performance is exceeding our expectations. We continue to be pleased with the performance of our Belgian stores. We opened three Albert Heijn supermarkets during the quarter, bringing our total number of Belgian stores to eleven. Bol.com showed a strong sales performance and continued to strengthen its position in the Netherlands.
In an ongoing tough environment in Other Europe, the VAT increase earlier this year continued to impact net sales. We continued to drive sales ahead of the competition and gained market share.
This press release 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 the performance of Ahold stores in, amongst other markets, Belgium. 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 complete successfully 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 press release. Ahold does not assume any obligation to update any public information or forward-looking statements in this press release 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”.