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Ahold reports positive Q4, full-year results

BY Allison Cerra

AMSTERDAM — Ahold experienced several bright spots during its fourth quarter and full year, the Dutch supermarket company said.

Fourth-quarter net sales totaled $9.4 billion, a 4.5% increase above the year-ago period, while net sales for the year increased by 2.5% to $39.1 billion.

For its U.S. subsidiary, which includes such banners as Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, Ahold said Ahold USA garnered $5.9 billion in fourth-quarter net sales, which were 5% above the year-ago period. Similarly, identical-store sales and comparable-store sales increased 3.9% and 4.2%, respectively. For the full year, net sales totaled $25.1 billion, marking a 6.6% boost over 2010, while identical-store sales and comparable-store sales most experienced positive gains of 4.9% and 5.1%, respectively.

"We are pleased to have delivered another solid performance over the quarter, growing sales and market share in the United States and the Netherlands," the company said. "We continue to be well positioned in challenging market conditions with customers remaining cautious in their spending."

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H-E-B looks to keep customers healthy through new initiative

BY Allison Cerra

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — H-E-B is committed to improve the health of its customers by providing them with fresh, healthy and affordable food, and by supporting their healthy eating and weight-loss goals.

The retailer said its "Healthy at H-E-B" program will encompass several prongs, including an investment of about $20 million in lower prices on fresh produce, as well as a series of events that will encourage healthy eating and weight loss. For example, "Healthy at H-E-B" will include Healthy Savings Meal solutions, which are modeled after USDA My Plate guidelines and feature a bundle of at least four healthy ingredients that can be used to prepare a meal for a family of four for under $10 with a $4 dollar coupon. What’s more, H-E-B also will host free screenings on the second Saturday of each month at all stores with a pharmacy for customers to learn their "numbers," including cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and waist circumference.

“We are facing a health crisis in Texas,” H-E-B president and COO Craig Boyan said. “Last June, Texas was listed as the 13th most obese state in the nation. An estimated 64% of the total population and one in five Texas kids are now considered overweight or obese. Given our position as the leading food retailer in the state, we have a unique opportunity to help those who want to make a change for themselves and their families.”

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Kodak officially files for Ch. 11

BY Allison Cerra

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After weeks of speculation, Kodak and its U.S. subsidiaries officially filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 business reorganization.

The company, which submitted the filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, said the decision is "intended to bolster liquidity in the U.S. and abroad, monetize nonstrategic intellectual property, fairly resolve legacy liabilities and enable the company to focus on its most valuable business lines." Earlier this month, Kodak unveiled a new corporate structure, which included the consolidation of its three business units into two, the creation of the chief operating office and related executive appointments.

Kodak has obtained a fully-committed, $950 million debtor-in-possession credit facility with an 18-month maturity from Citigroup to enhance liquidity and working capital. The credit facility is subject to court approval and other conditions precedent. Kodak expects to complete its U.S.-based restructuring during 2013.

“Kodak is taking a significant step toward enabling our enterprise to complete its transformation,” Kodak chairman and CEO Antonio Perez said. “At the same time as we have created our digital business, we have also already effectively exited certain traditional operations, closing 13 manufacturing plants and 130 processing labs, and reducing our workforce by 47,000 since 2003. Now we must complete the transformation by further addressing our cost structure and effectively monetizing non-core IP assets. We look forward to working with our stakeholders to emerge a lean, world-class, digital imaging and materials science company.

“After considering the advantages of Chapter 11 at this time, the board of directors and the entire senior management team unanimously believe that this is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak,” Perez said. “Our goal is to maximize value for stakeholders, including our employees, retirees, creditors, and pension trustees. We are also committed to working with our valued customers.”

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