ZAANDAM, Netherlands — Ahold Delhaize on Wednesday reported fourth quarter operating income of 627 million euros ($716 million) at constant exchange rates, with net sales of 16.5 billion euros, a 3% increase from a year ago.
The company’s fourth quarter results were lifted by a 25% increase in online sales.
Net sales for the full year were 62.8 billion euros, up 2.5%.
The full-year performance reflects synergies achieved from the 2016 union of Ahold and Delhaize, said Frans Muller, president and chief executive officer of Ahold Delhaize.
“In 2018 we essentially completed the merger integration process and delivered on the synergies we promised. At the same time, we continued our strong business performance, while investing in meeting the needs of our customers in a rapidly changing industry,” Muller said. “Today, Ahold Delhaize is fit for the future, with a very robust financial profile and the right structure to further grow our brands, both in-store and online.”
Muller, who was promoted to the top job last summer, said Ahold Delhaize plans to continue to make acquisitions and invest in its e-commerce operations. In November, the company announced plans to roll out small, automated warehouses to improve order picking and shorten delivery times.
“With our Leading Together strategy in place, our focus turns to further strengthening our great local brands by accelerating investments in omnichannel growth, technology and a healthy and sustainable offering to customers,” Muller said.
Ahold Delhaize does about two-thirds of its business in the United States, where it operates stores under the Stop & Shop, GIANT, Food Lion and Hannaford banners and the Peapod digital grocery service. Comparable-store sales at its U.S. stores rose 2.7% in the fourth quarter.
“In the U.S. we continued to see good momentum in the financial performance across the brands,” Muller said. “We are excited about the program to refresh the look and feel of our Stop & Shop brand and the rapid expansion of our Click and Collect options for our customers. In addition, Food Lion reported its 25th quarter of positive comparable sales and volumes, supported by the rollout of its ‘Easy, Fresh and Affordable’ program.”