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Ahold chief executive officer touts success in U.S.

BY DSN STAFF

AMSTERDAM , Netherlands Ahold chief executive officer John Rishton spoke about his company’s efforts in the United States at the company’s annual general meeting of shareholders. Rishton noted the success of the Value Improvement Program, which it launched at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover in September 2006.

“The program is designed to give customers better value, better quality, lower prices and a more relevant assortment. The program is on track and we had completed over 70 percent of the roll out by the end of 2007,” said Rishton.

Rishton noted that its Giant-Carlisle stores reported its 51st consecutive quarter of positive ID sales growth and 36th year of record sales and profits. He also noted that Ahold is simplifying its stores at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover—making its selection more relevant and appealing.

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Supervalu celebrates Earth Day

BY DSN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Supervalu, in honor of Earth Day, has launched a new associate volunteer program—Volunteers in Action—and participating in month-long Earth Day community and in-store events.

“As one of the largest retail grocery companies in the United States, Supervalu is committed to preserving and protecting our environment,” said John Domino, Supervalu vp of facilities, energy, environmental and engineering. “We are proud to honor our pledge as environmental stewards, not only through our month-long Earth Day events and activities, but every day through our business operating practices and community relations efforts.”

Supervalu’s activities include a weeklong partnership with the Will Steger Foundation that includes educating children on global warming, distributing reusable bags in Boise and clean-ups in Southern California.

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Safeway net income up in Q1

BY DSN STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway reported net income of $193.4 million, or 44 cents per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2008 compared to net income of $174.4 million 39 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2007.

The company reported that total sales increased 7.3 percent to $10 billion in the first quarter of 2008 compared to $9.3 billion in the first quarter of 2007. According to the company, the sales growth was due to contributions from Lifestyle stores, an increase in the Canadian dollar exchange rate and higher fuel sales drove this increase. Identical-store sales increased 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2008. Excluding fuel, identical-store sales increased 2.9 percent. Easter holiday sales occurred in the first quarter of this year compared to the second quarter of last year. When adjusted for the estimated impact of the Easter holiday shift, non-fuel, identical-store sales increased 2 percent.

“We are pleased with our earnings performance in the first quarter of 2008,” said Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Our earnings per share grew by 13 percent compared to the first quarter of 2007. Part of this growth was due to the shift in the Easter holiday. In addition, our efforts to reduce and control costs contributed to operating margin improvement. At the same time, we invested in lower prices to improve our competitiveness and enhance our consumer offering. We remain confident in our ability to deliver earnings per share growth in the 13-18 percent range for this 53-week year.”

Safeway confirmed guidance for 2008 of $2.25 to $2.35 diluted earnings per share and free cash flow of $500 million to $700 million. Safeway revised guidance for identical-store sales growth, excluding fuel, from a range of 3 percent to 3.2 percent to a range of 2 percent to 2.3 percent.

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