Ahold Delhaize profits soar on booming online business

Dutch-Belgian food retailer Ahold Delhaize said Wednesday that its profits more than doubled in 2017 on the back of strong online sales, in the first full year of its merger.
One of the world's leading supermarket giants, Ahold Delhaize said net profits jumped to 1.82 billion euros ($2.2 billion) from 830 million euros the year before, beating forecasts.
Sales grew by 29 percent to 62.89 billion euros and underlying or operating income was up 43 percent at 2.22 billion euros.
Chief executive Dick Boer said "2017 was the first year as Ahold Delhaize, one in which we substantially completed the integration."
The group, formed from the merger of Dutch-based Ahold and Belgian Delhaize in 2016, said it performed particularly well in the fast-growing online shopping market.
"We grew our online consumer sales by more than 20 percent... (and) in 2017 we realised 2.8 billion euros in online consumer sales," said Boer.
The group, based in Zaandam just outside Amsterdam, is expected to rake in nearly five billion euros in online sales by 2020, he said.
"We are expanding our digital capabilities in all our brands and are rolling out customer loyalty programmes," Boer added.
In the Netherlands, the group's online arms, called ah.nl and bol.com, reported record sales in December alone.
Between them, Ahold and Delhaize have 6,500 stores in Europe and the United States, including such chains as Giant and Food Lion, and employ 370,000 people.
© 2018 AFP