Ahold Delhaize: online drives strong Q4 sales growth

Date : 18 February 2021

Jon Wright

Head of Insight - RA EMEA

Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize reported net sales growth of 18.0%, to €19.6 bn (US$23.8 bn) in its fourth quarter. Group comparable sales rose 11.0%, excluding gasoline. Underlining the positive result of recent investment in its online operations, Ahold Delhaize reported net consumer online sales grew by 84.2% in the fourth quarter, aided by growth of 128.5% in the US alone.

US: comparable sales +11.2%

Ahold Delhaize reported total sales growth of 18.7% in Euro terms, to €11.4 bn. The pace of sales growth, in local currency terms, saw the retailer gain market share in the US. The 128.5% growth in online sales underpinned this performance and continued the channel’s strong performance throughout 2020. The retailer said it ended the year with 1,116 click and collect points in operation, up from 883 at the end of the third quarter and exceeding its target of operating more than 1,100 by the end of the year.

It completed 33 Stop & Shop remodels, including 22 in Q4, with a further 60 stores expected to be updated in 2021. Food Lion reported its 33rd consecutive quarter of positive comparable sales growth.

Europe: comparable sales +10.6%

Ahold Delhaize reported it had gained market share across its Benelux operations in 2020, while maintaining its share in central and southeastern Europe. In the Netherlands, Albert Heijn updated a further 31 stores to its new fresh and technology focused format in the fourth quarter, with 112 completed in 2020. It is aiming to update a further 60 stores in 2021. To support its online growth, Albert Heijn added to its online coverage in Belgium, seeing it add a further 275,000 households.

In Belgium, Ahold Delhaize highlighted the launch of Delhaize’s SuperPlus loyalty card. The programme, which provides rewards and discounts to consumers on purchases of healthy and sustainable products, ended 2020 with 1.35m members.

Net consumer online sales +84.2%...

In Q4 Ahold Delhaize reported net consumer online sales increased by 84.2%. For the full year net consumer online sales rose 67%, underlining the channel’s success for the retailer. It said online had benefited from changes in consumer behaviour, such as more working from home and shoppers looking for a safe and convenient solution. Looking ahead to 2021 the retailer said it expected net consumer online sales to continue to grow strongly and was forecasting growth of more than 30% in the next 12 months. In the US, Ahold Delhaize said it expected online sales growth of over 60%.

…As Bol.com sees sales rise 69.9% in Q4

Underlining the increasing importance of its full online offer, Ahold Delhaize reported its non-grocery-focused online store, Bol.com, enjoyed net consumer sales growth of 69.6% in the quarter. The company noted the benefit Bol.com had seen from the closure of non-essential stores in Belgium and the Netherlands. The site’s sales from third-party sellers grew 110% in Q4, with Ahold Delhaize saying there were now 41,000 sellers on the platform. Bol.com’s total sales in 2020 reached €4.3 bn (US$5.2 bn), with it expecting sales to exceed €5.0 bn in 2021 and generate a positive EBIT and double digit return on capital.

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