Ahold Delhaize's Sales Jump In First Quarter Dominated By Coronavirus
Ahold Delhaize said that it is expecting a sales rise 15% in the first quarter, after its customers stockpiled food and other essentials in all its markets because of the coronavirus outbreak.
"Due to COVID-19, demand across our network in the Eastern U.S. and Europe increased significantly in Q1," Frans Muller, chief executive of the Netherlands-based firm.
The company releases its preliminary results on 7 May, but in a trading update, Ahold Delhaize said that comparable sales excluding gasoline were expected to be up by around 14% in the US and by 10% in Europe.
In Europe, it said that the business saw 'slightly earlier' stockpiling, which commenced in February and 'accelerated into March'.
Despite the sales boost, the company said the pandemic had also created uncertainty so it was sticking with its full-year outlook for a roughly stable underlying operating margin and mid-single digit growth of underlying earnings per share.
"Although we continued to experience higher than normal sales growth through the end of March, there is increased uncertainty in sales over the course of the year, especially as it applies to changes in consumer shopping patterns and behaviour," Muller said.
The company did say, however, that its free cash flow would probably exceed its previous guidance of €1.5 billion euros.