with the chairman of the board of directors and the chief executive officer
- € 872 MUnderlying operating profit
- € 24.4 BRevenues
- € 518 MFree cash flow
How would you describe 2015 in one or two words?Mats Jansson -
“Credibility” and “merger” were the key words for 2015. We increased our credibility as we continued to perform well in our U.S. and Southeastern European markets. We also strengthened our credibility as we resolved, with our social partners, our Transformation Plan in our Belgian operations in February 2015. Since this resolution we have been focused on recapturing our business, improving our performance, and increasing our credibility with our associates, our suppliers and partners and most importantly, our customers and shareholders. People believe in us and are rewarding us by shopping at our stores. In mid-2015 Delhaize Group and Ahold announced the proposed merger of the two companies. This proposed merger is highly complementary and will result in a base of more than 6 500 stores with 375 000 associates, serving over 50 million customers per week in the U.S. and in Europe. We expect the combined company to realize around €500 million of synergies with yearly turnover of approximately €65 billion.
What would you describe as the most important accomplishments at Delhaize Group in 2015?Frans Muller -
In 2015, we increased sales and stabilized or gained market share in all our markets. Our strong results in the U.S. were partly a result of the successful roll-out of Food Lion’s “Easy, Fresh & Affordable…You Can Count on Food Lion Every Day!” strategy in a total of 162 stores in 2015, following capital investment of around $250 million – also in 2015. We plan to further deploy this strategy in 2016. At Hannaford, we opened a well-received small format store that emphasizes fresh products while offering an edited selection of everyday grocery items that customers buy most. This sets the stage for future growth in this area for Hannaford. In Belgium, we began to see results from implementing our Transformation Plan as well as improved procurement terms, thanks to our participation in Coopernic, a cooperative European buying alliance. In Southeastern Europe we saw robust comparable store sales growth. In Romania, we opened 71 additional stores (1) in 2015 and rolled out two “Gusturi romanesti” stores, which focus on traditional Romanian products. In Serbia, which has experienced a protracted economic downturn, our market share has further improved and profits remained stable. In Greece, despite the country’s economic difficulties, we saw profitability and sales growth as well as market share gains as a result of our operational discipline, including better supplier terms. Finally, in Indonesia in 2015 we continued to see significant comparable store sales growth.
(1) Store opening figures presented throughout this report are presented “gross”; that is, they do not include stores closed unless specifically mentioned.