Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Ahold today published its summary report for the fourth quarter and full year 2011. CEO Dick Boer said: “We are pleased with our performance in the fourth quarter, delivering solid results in the United States and the Netherlands. 2011 was a successful year for Ahold where we grew sales by 5.5 percent at constant exchange rates and net income by 19 percent under challenging economic circumstances.
“We launched our new strategy to reshape retail at Ahold, taking advantage of rapid changes in consumer behavior, shopping trends and the retail landscape. We achieved our cost reduction targets a year ahead of time and announced a new 350 million euro cost savings program for the next three years.
“Reflecting the confidence in our new strategy and our proven ability to generate cash, we propose a 38 percent increase in our dividend to €0.40 per share.
“We expect 2012 to be another challenging year for the food retail industry, the macro-economic environment means that consumers still continue to look for value and competition will remain intense. Our strong brands are well positioned to make progress in our major markets, however, we anticipate sales growth in the first quarter will reflect the difficult economic conditions, as well as the timing of Easter.
“During 2012, we will take further steps to make our capital structure more efficient by investing in growth, reducing debt and returning cash to shareholders while remaining committed to an investment grade credit rating.”
This summary report includes forward-looking statements, which do not refer to historical facts but refer to expectations based on management's current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those included in such statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements as to Ahold taking advantage of rapid changes in consumer behavior, shopping trends and retail landscape, consumers look for value and intense competition, making progress in our major markets and returns to shareholders, a cost savings program, a more efficient capital structure, debt reduction, maintenance of investment grade ratings, liquidity , net interest expense, capital expenditure and the publication of Ahold’s financial statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Many of these risks and uncertainties relate to factors that are beyond Ahold’s ability to control or estimate precisely, such as the effect of general economic or political conditions, fluctuations in exchange rates or interest rates, increases or changes in competition, Ahold’s ability to implement and complete successfully its plans and strategies, the benefits from and resources generated by Ahold’s plans and strategies being less than or different from those anticipated, changes in Ahold’s liquidity needs, the actions of competitors and third parties and other factors discussed in Ahold’s public filings and other disclosures. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this summary report. Ahold does not assume any obligation to update any public information or forward-looking statements in this summary report to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as may be required by applicable laws. Outside the Netherlands, Koninklijke Ahold N.V., being its registered name, presents itself under the name of “Royal Ahold” or simply “Ahold”.