ZAANDAM, The Netherlands — Ahold announced plans to significantly expand its Peapod presence in the U.S. market when announcing fourth-quarter results on Thursday. "Peapod is expected to double its capacity in the U.S. in 2014," Dick Boer, Ahold CEO, told analysts.
"We're planning to open a semi-automated New Jersey warehouse during this summer of 300,000 square feet — clearly focusing on the demands of the New York City market," Boer said. As many as 21 million people live within New York City's boundaries, Boer said, "so enormous opportunity for us to move in that market — we're already there, but to accelerate that growth."
Boer reported that Peapod would also concentrate on expanding its number of pick-up points by 200 by the end of the year.
Furthering its commitment to online strategies, Ahold recently opened a state-of-the-art digital innovation lab in Chicago, Boer said. "[This] allows us to attract top talent to help us shape the future."
Ahold USA on Thursday reported net sales of $6 billion, down 2.1%. Identical sales dropped 2.1% (2% excluding gasoline) reflecting the sales effect of Hurricane Sandy last year and a challenging fourth quarter, the company stated. For the full year, net sales were $26.1 billion, up 1.1%. Identical sales were up 0.2% (0.3% excluding gasoline).
“In 2013, we continued to implement our Reshaping Retail strategy, leveraging changing consumer needs and pursuing growth opportunities in both existing and new markets," Boer stated. "We also continued to rapidly expand our online businesses, achieving strong double-digit sales growth," he said. “While we expect economic conditions to gradually improve, we remain cautious in our outlook for the food retail sector in 2014. Our ongoing focus on expanding our online businesses is expected to continue to result in strong sales growth. We will continue to look for ways to simplify our business in order to reduce costs so that we can invest in our value proposition and offer customers a better shopping experience every day.”