Ahold Delhaize has reported a 0.2% decline in like-for-like sales in its European operations (excluding gas) in the third quarter of its financial year, however sales compared to the corresponding period two years ago were up 7.5%.
The group's European segment posted net sales of €7.04 billion for the period, which is a reported sales gain of 1.1%.
Albert Heijn A 'Particular Standout'
Ahold Delhaize said that its Albert Heijn banner was a 'particular standout' in the quarter, seeing market share gains driven by successful marketing campaigns and a boost from store remodelling activities.
It added that its central and southern European operations recorded 'good comparable sales growth' in the period.
Online continues to be a strong growth area for the business, with net consumer online sales up 20.1% in Europe, following on from 48.6% growth in the same period last year.
Third-quarter sales were affected by climactic conditions, however, with the recent flooding in Belgium having a 0.4 percentage point impact on its performance.
On a group-wide basis, Ahold Delhaize reported a 4.6% increase in net sales to €18.54 billion for the period, with like-for-like sales (excluding gas) rising by 1.7%.
In the US, its largest market, net sales were up 6.8% to €11.5 billion.
"Our Q3 results once again showed the resilience of our business model, with our brands building further on 2020's COVID-19-related sales gains, as various societies across our markets reopened in the quarter," commented Frans Muller, Ahold Delhaize president and chief executive.
"During these ever-changing times, we remain proud of the significant efforts of associates in all our brands and businesses, who continue to tirelessly serve our communities. In Europe and the United States, our businesses faced additional disruptions in Q3 related to the Belgian floods, tornadoes in the Czech Republic, fires in Greece and Hurricane Ida in the US."
The group has raised its full-year operating margin expectations – it now expects group underlying operating margin to be approximately 4.4%, underlying EPS to grow in the low- to mid-20s range compared to 2019, and free cash flow to be approximately €1.7 billion.