Ahold Delhaize is in a "strategically stronger position" than it was prior to the pandemic, its CEO Frans Muller has said, particularly due to increased online and home delivery sales.
Muller was commenting as Ahold Delhaize reported net sales of €18.6 billion in the second quarter, which was down 2.4% at actual exchange rates but up 3.0% at constant exchange rates.
Compared to the same period in 2019, however, the group reported growth of 16.4% in the quarter, which was ahead of the 14.4% growth it posted in full-year 2020, and in line with its first-quarter performance (+16.4% compared to Q1 2019).
"We are pleased with our Q2 performance," said Muller. "During the quarter, associates in all our brands and businesses continued to work tirelessly in a rapidly shifting environment, marked by the gradual reopening of the economies across our markets. We remain grateful to them for their hard work and dedication to serving customers and communities."
Ahold Delhaize's Europe Performance
In Europe, net sales were up 3.6% at actual exchange rates, compared to the corresponding period last year, and 3.9% higher at actual exchange rates. Growth on a two-year comparable basis was +12.6%.
The group said that growth during the quarter was led by the performance of Albert Heijn, bol.com and its Czech Republic operations.
Muller also expressed the group's support for those affected by flooding in the Netherlands and fires in Greece, adding that the group is "committed to serving these communities and our brands' associates during these difficult times."
Net consumer online sales were up 27.0% in Europe in the quarter, on top of 63.9% growth in the same period last year. Its bol.com platform saw net sales rise 24.2% in Q2 2021, with sales from third-party sellers rising 26% in the quarter.
In February, the group announced the acquisition of 39 former Deen stores in the Netherlands, a deal that has since been completed.
US Sales And Outlook
In the US, the group's biggest market, net sales were up 2.7% at constant exchange rates and declined 6.2% at actual exchange rates, due to tough comparatives.
Online sales in the US were up 61.0% at constant currency levels, however, driven by continued expansion of click-and-collect facilities and the FreshDirect acquisition.
Looking ahead, the group has raised its margin outlook for the year to 4.3%, ahead of the previously communicated 4.0%, reflecting its positive margin performance over the first half of the year.
"While COVID-19 continues to create significant uncertainty, our Q2 results provide us with the confidence to raise our underlying EPS and underlying operating margin forecast for the full year," said Muller.
"We also announced a 2021 interim dividend of €0.43 compared to the 2020 interim dividend of €0.50, in line with our dividend policy which is equal to 40% of the year-to-date underlying income per share from continuing operations."