Beating analyst expectations, Dutch supermarket chain Ahold has posted an increase in operating profit for the second quarter of 2013.
Sales were up 3% on the same period a year ago, based on constant exchange rates, at €7.8 billion. Underlying operating profit rose 5.4% at constant exchange rates to €338 million but net income was down 17.3% at €206 million. According to the company, this was largely due to the sale of ICA earlier this year.
Ahold chief executive Dick Boer said the company remained cautious about its outlook for the rest of the year.
"In the current economic environment we remain cautious in our outlook for the balance of the year, as we expect customers to be focused on value and volumes to remain under pressure. We are well on track with our cost saving program and are committed to our Reshaping Retail strategy", Boer stated.
He added, “In the Netherlands sales grew by 5.6%, mainly driven by new stores and ongoing strong sales growth in our online business. Albert Heijn successfully converted another four former C1000/Jumbo stores, bringing the total to 22 and continued to gain market share."
Sales excluding fuel at stores open for at least a year in the United States, which accounts for more than 60% of Ahold's revenues, rose by 0.3%.
Ahold said that it was continuing to focus on initiatives such as own brands to improve margins and create customer loyalty. In the Netherlands 54% of the goods Ahold sells are already own brands, whereas in the United States this total is lower, standing at 37%.
© 2013 - ESM: European Supermarket Magazine by Ellen Lunney