Strong Sales, E-Commerce Gains Fuel Ahold Delhaize

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Ahold Delhaize continued its recent growth trend with strong sales in its fourth quarter 2018, helped by investing in its existing store base and the unveiling of several new e-commerce initiatives.

In its most recent sales report, the Amsterdam-based retailer reported that comparable store sales (excluding gas) increased 2.7 percent in the U.S. for the fourth quarter ended December 30, 2018. For the full year, net sales were $8.63 billion (excluding gas), up 5.9 percent from the previous year. Online sales growth in the states was strong, rising 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter to $179 million.

The solid momentum in U.S. sales was helped by a slightly favorable weather impact and a lower level of inflation compared to the previous year. The company also said that e-commerce initiatives started to gain traction at each of its brands. At Food Lion, benefits have continued from the rollout of its “Easy, Fresh and Affordable” program, now at 70 percent of its stores.

After a slight delay, the company debuted its first small format store when Giant/Martin’s opened Giant Heirloom Market in Philadelphia last month. Shortly after that store debuted, the company said that three previously acquired smaller locations in the Philadelphia area would indeed also open as Heirloom Markets.

The first Giant Heirloom Market, located in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood in Philadelphia, introduced a new store concept, format, and assortment curated for urban neighborhoods. Slated to open over the summer will be a 9,950 square foot Heirloom Market in University City, between Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. A Northern Liberties site will open its doors in the fall, followed by a Queen Village location by the end of 2019.

Giant/Martin’s foray into the city of Philadelphia began in 2011 when it opened a Giant Food Store in Northeast Philadelphia. Its city store count now totals five.

The new store prototype blends modern innovation and community focus and offer fresh, local, seasonal and flavor‐focused foods, everyday essentials and organic private brand Nature’s Promise.

In e-commerce developments, Giant/Martins late last month announced a new strategic addition to the its family of brands, Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod. The new brand debuts in the city of Lancaster with the opening of its new Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod e-commerce hub at 235 North Reservoir Street, on February 12.

Part of a $22 million investment in Lancaster County first announced by the company in June 2018, the 38,000 square foot hub adds about 150 jobs to the local economy. In partnership with Peapod Digital Labs, the new digital hub will propel the company’s e-commerce centers to offer a pickup option, where online orders are delivered directly to customer vehicles that have pulled up outside.

“We are excited to make Lancaster the home of our newest innovation with the launch of our new Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod e-commerce hub,” said Nicholas Bertram, president of Carlisle, PA based Giant/Martin’s. “Not only is the e-commerce hub a completely new concept for us and a first of its kind in our area,” Bertram continued.

Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod will replace the current branding model of “Peapod by Giant.” With the addition of the Lancaster County facility, Giant/Martin’s now operates five Pennsylvania based e-commerce facilities, including in Camp Hill, Coopersburg, North Coventry and Willow Grove.

As it continues to ramp up its online grocery options, Ahold Delhaize USA announced last month that, in a push for its brands to extend same-day grocery delivery, it has tapped last-mile logistics company Deliv to partner with its Peapod Digital Labs to shorten delivery windows. The program will start with Giant/Martin’s stores in select markets where next day delivery service is currently unavailable.

“At Peapod Digital Labs, it is our mission to support each of Ahold Delhaize USA’s local brands in providing an industry leading omnichannel experience for their customers. This means being there for customers, anytime, anywhere – within hours,” said JJ Fleeman, president of Peapod Digital Labs and chief e-commerce officer of Ahold Delhaize USA. “Through Peapod Digital Labs’ relationship with Deliv, we will assist the brands as they continue to conquer the last mile, and rapidly scale same day delivery to the benefit of millions of local brand shoppers by 2020. Deliv is an example of many partners we will work with to deliver this benefit to customers.”

The partnership will allow Giant/Martin’s to offer one-hour delivery windows, as soon as four hours in advance, through a pilot program in select zip codes in the Willow Grove, PA area. The pilot is expected to be scaled in the coming months to additional Giant/Martin’s stores and to other ADUSA brands’ markets where delivery is powered by