After a particularly strong fourth quarter, in which sales rose by 18 per cent, Ahold Delhaize rounds off the full-year 2020 with double-digit sales growth. The strong online performance is striking: bol.com is also breaking records. However, net profits declined.
E-commerce booms, but costs rise
Ahold Delhaize ended the 2020 financial year with sales of 74.7 billion euros, a growth of 14.2 per cent. The retailer was able to strengthen its position in every market in which it operates. Online sales even increased by 84.2 per cent in the fourth quarter and 67.4 per cent for the full year, to 7.6 billion euros. Strong, because the group had planned to cross the 7 billion mark in online sales only at the end of this year. CEO Frans Muller also expects growth of roughly 30 per cent for e-commerce in 2021. Bol.com grew by 69.6 per cent in the fourth quarter. More than 41,000 sales partners are now operating on the platform, and their sales grew by 110 per cent.
Of course, the exceptional sales growth is due to the Covid crisis, which caused a shift in consumption in favour of supermarkets and online players. But e-commerce is still less profitable than physical store sales and the pandemic also forced retailers to incur additional costs and make investments. Moreover, there was a financial impact of a pension agreement in the United States and the Netherlands. As a result, net profit fell from 1.8 to 1.4 billion euros. However, the profit margin for the full year increased to a comfortable 4.8 per cent.
In the Netherlands, Ahold Delhaize just bought 39 supermarket outlets from the family-owned chain Deen, a member of the purchasing group Superunie. These stores will be converted to Albert Heijn stores.