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Ahold Delhaize announces accelerated growth and investment plan to drive more customer value

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Management to share plans on intended sub-IPO bol.com and increased investments in digital proposition and sustainability at today’s Investor Day


Leading Together strategic highlights

  • Doubling down on creating deeper digital customer relationships with accelerated investments in scalable online capabilities  
  • Increasing focus on health and sustainability; bringing net-zero target forward to 2040 for direct carbon emissions in our own operations
  • Introducing first-of-a-kind customer ecosystem in the Benelux, connecting shopping experiences across its food and non-food brands
  • Explore subsidiary IPO of bol.com; Ahold Delhaize to retain significant long-term control

Key financial ambitions and preliminary guidance

  • Accelerating sales growth rates 2023-2025 adding €10 billion by 2025
  • Net consumer online sales expected to double and fully allocated e-commerce profitability expected by 2025
  • Bol.com projected 2021 net consumer online sales and EBITDA of ~ €5.5bn and ~ €150-170 million respectively, expected to approximately double by 2025
  • Cumulative Save for Our Customers initiatives to yield ~ € 4 billion 2022-2025
  • Delivering high-single-digit annual underlying EPS growth versus 2022
  • Announcing a new €1 billion share buyback program to start at the beginning of 2022*
  • Despite macro-economic headwinds, sales for 2022 are projected to increase versus 2021, and operating margins are planned ≥ 4.0%

Zaandam, the Netherlands, November 15th, 2021 – At its 2021 Investor Day, Ahold Delhaize today announces the next chapter of its Leading Together strategy, which outlines key plans and targets towards 2025. Powered by its great local brands, this growth and investment plan underpins Ahold Delhaize’s vision to deliver the leading local food shopping experience for customers, placing value and convenience at the heart of its strategy. In addition, the company announced its intention to significantly step-up investments in digital and automation, to explore a subsidiary-IPO for bol.com, and increase focus and attention on accelerating its health and sustainability agenda.

Frans Muller, President & CEO of Ahold Delhaize, said: “Our Leading Together strategy has proven to be strong in recent years, and is a great foundation as we head into the future. The COVID-19 pandemic put our people and our strategic choices to the test, and through it all we were able to always deliver for our customers, our communities and our associates in all the brands and support companies. I cannot stress enough how proud I am of our achievements. The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change in the retail industry. It has also changed consumer behavior permanently with people shopping more online, eating more at home and having a bigger interest in local and healthier food.”

Building on the Leading Together strategy, the company has identified four priorities to double down on between now and 2025:

  • Serve customers through deeper digital relationships across our omnichannel Customer Value Proposition (CVP)
  • Accelerate development of/investments in omnichannel capabilities and continue to be the best local operators
  • Lead the transformation into a healthy and sustainable food retail system
  • Leverage the portfolio to create the ultimate ecosystem for smarter local customer journeys

Investing in Digital proposition
Ahold Delhaize and its great local brands exist to help people eat well, save time and live better. Customers are looking for high value, convenient and personalized solutions – and shop whenever and wherever they want. Ahold Delhaize will invest in its brands to provide shoppers relevant products and services, promotions, tailored customer experiences and premium subscription memberships. To enable customers to shop in this way, Ahold Delhaize will accelerate its investments in building scalable and repeatable operational capabilities, with a sharper focus on digital, online, data and automation.

In doing so, Ahold Delhaize expects to accelerate net sales growth with €10 billion in incremental sales from 2023-2025. Net consumer online sales are planned to double between 2021 and 2025. In addition, Ahold Delhaize plans to have eCommerce profitable on a fully allocated basis by 2025.

Natalie Knight, CFO Ahold Delhaize: “To support these plans, the company will increase investment levels from 3% to 3.5% per annum to fuel growth. We will continue to be the best operator in the industry, underlined by our world-class operating margins. As part of our planning toward 2025, we are committing to even more ambitious Save for Our Customers targets: ~ €4 billion by 2025. We will also use our knowledge and experience to make eCommerce profitable by 2025, and I am pleased to announce a planned €1 billion share buyback* for 2022.”

Establishing one of the largest supply chain networks on the U.S. East Coast
In 2019, Ahold Delhaize USA launched its supply chain transformation, focused on bringing back its supply chain as it builds out its omnichannel network and adding new facilities in key geographies.

Kevin Holt, CEO, Ahold Delhaize USA said: “With these changes, Ahold Delhaize USA will have full control of its supply chain and an optimized network at scale, which enables the local brands to better serve their customers, allows ADUSA to continue to invest in automation and digital capabilities to lower costs to serve, and ultimately enables direct to customer relationships as part of its omnichannel network. The transformation will create one of the largest supply chain networks on the East Coast. It is scheduled to be finished in April 2024, with 26 facilities in the integrated self-distribution network.”

First-of-a-kind customer ecosystem
The strong local presence of the Ahold Delhaize brands is a key factor in their success. This is illustrated by the New York metro area where Stop & Shop and Fresh Direct and their partners form an ecosystem to deliver fresh and healthy food wherever, however and whenever New Yorkers wish to shop.

In the Benelux, Ahold Delhaize has a unique position with its renowned supermarket brands Albert Heijn and Delhaize, online marketplace bol.com as well as Gall & Gall and Etos. Ahold Delhaize announces its first-of-a-kind customer ecosystem in which the Benelux brands will work closely together to connect shopping experiences across food and non-food, offering customers more convenience, value and relevance.

“Time is a precious commodity for our customers. Retailers who can simplify the customer journey will be most relevant in the long term, and powered by bol.com we believe we can be one of them. With the combined strengths of all the brands in the Benelux, we have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to create a truly comprehensive customer ecosystem”, said Wouter Kolk, CEO Ahold Delhaize Europe & Indonesia.

Explore subsidiary IPO of bol.com
After an extensive and thorough review considering the strategic opportunities for bol.com, during the past year, Ahold Delhaize has decided to build on the remarkable success, customer loyalty and leadership position of bol.com as a retail tech platform and explore a subsidiary Initial Public Offering (sub-IPO) for bol.com.

The rationale for this decision is to fully activate the opportunities for bol.com, to fuel its tremendous growth potential and to provide further funding for Ahold Delhaize to execute on its winning strategy. Bol.com will continue to play an important role in the strategic partnership with other brands of Ahold Delhaize in the Benelux.

It is envisaged that the sub-IPO will entail a listing of a limited interest on Euronext Amsterdam, and that Ahold Delhaize will retain significant control over bol.com in the long term to ensure its growth and development.

The sub-IPO is expected to happen in the second half of 2022, subject to multiple internal and external factors, including market conditions. Further details will be provided in due course.


Increasing focus on health and sustainability
Ahold Delhaize will further invest in, sharpen and strengthen its initiatives towards a healthy and sustainable food retail system. Amongst other sharpened ambitions, the company is bringing forward its scope 1 and 2 targets by committing to reach net-zero carbon emissions across its own operations no later than 2040 and to becoming a net-zero business across its entire supply chain, products and services by 2050 (scope 3).

Further, Ahold Delhaize has joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C, a global coalition of UN agencies, business and industry leaders, in partnership with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the UN led campaign ‘Race to Zero’. These and other ESG metrics will make up a bigger part of executive incentive programs going forward and will be supported by increased transparency going forward.

Frans Muller commented: “We realize that these are ambitious targets which require a lot of work over the coming years, and we feel encouraged by our double AA rating upgrade by MSCI and recently confirmed DJSI leadership position. But most importantly we are confident that these and the other targets included in today’s strategy update are achievable because of our highly engaged and committed associates.”

More information
Further plans and details will be provided during the Investor Day presentations, which will be available through webcast via www.aholddelhaize.com starting at 14:00 CET / 8:00 AM EST. Presentations will be shared on this website as well.

Please see the following overview of guidance that the Ahold Delhaize leadership will share during the presentations at the 2021 Investor Day:

Financial Metrics2025 Ambitions
Net sales€10 billion incremental sales vs 2022
Underlying Operating MarginMaintaining industry leading margin
Net consumer online salesDouble versus 2021
Save for Our Customers~ € 4 billion 2022-2025
Complementary revenue streams~ €1 billion by 2025
Annual underlying EPSHigh-single-digit versus 2022
Annual capital expenditures3.5% of sales
Cumulative free cash flow> € 6 billion 2022-2025


* Management remains committed to the share buyback and dividend program, but given the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, will continue to monitor macroeconomic developments. The program is also subject to potential changes in corporate activities, such as potential material M&A activity.

CAUTIONARY NOTICE
This communication contains information that qualifies as inside information within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the EU Market Abuse Regulation.

This communication includes forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical facts may be forward-looking statements. Words and expressions such as announces/announcing, accelerat(ed)/(ing), growth, plans, intended/intention, sub-IPO, strategic, create(e)/(ing), increasing, target(s), forward, 2040, introducing, explore, retain, long-term, 2022/2023-2025, by, 2025, expect(s)/(ed), to, projected, yield, delivering, to start, beginning of 2022, next chapter, toward(s), vision, agenda, head into, future, permanently between now and 2025, lead, create, will, focus, planned, between 2021 and 2025, continue to, planning, committing, planned, ultimately, scheduled to, April 2024, be, opportunities, subsidiary Initial Public Offering, rationale, potential, further, winning, envisaged, second half of 2022, subject to, factors, in due course, ambitions, moving forward, no later than 2040, becoming, 2050, going forward, ambitious, and coming years or other similar words or expressions are typically used to identify forward-looking statements.

Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that are difficult to predict and that may cause the actual results of Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize N.V. (the “Company”) to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to, risks relating to the Company’s inability to successfully implement its strategy, manage the growth of its business or realize the anticipated benefits of acquisitions; risks relating to competition and pressure on profit margins in the food retail industry; the impact of economic conditions on consumer spending; turbulence in the global capital markets; political developments, natural disasters and pandemics; climate change; raw material scarcity and human rights developments in the supply chain; disruption of operations and other factors negatively affecting the Company’s suppliers; the unsuccessful operation of the Company’s franchised and affiliated stores; changes in supplier terms and the inability to pass on cost increases to prices; risks related to corporate responsibility and sustainable retailing; food safety issues resulting in product liability claims and adverse publicity; environmental liabilities associated with the properties that the Company owns or leases; competitive labor markets, changes in labor conditions and labor disruptions; increases in costs associated with the Company’s defined benefit pension plans; the failure or breach of security of IT systems; the Company’s inability to successfully complete divestitures and the effect of contingent liabilities arising from completed divestitures; antitrust and similar legislation; unexpected outcomes in the Company’s legal proceedings; additional expenses or capital expenditures associated with compliance with federal, regional, state and local laws and regulations; unexpected outcomes with respect to tax audits; the impact of the Company’s outstanding financial debt; the Company’s ability to generate positive cash flows; fluctuation in interest rates; the change in reference interest rate; the impact of downgrades of the Company’s credit ratings and the associated increase in the Company’s cost of borrowing; exchange rate fluctuations; inherent limitations in the Company’s control systems; changes in accounting standards; adverse results arising from the Company’s claims against its self-insurance program; the Company’s inability to locate appropriate real estate or enter into real estate leases on commercially acceptable terms; and other factors discussed in the Company’s public filings and other disclosures.

Forward-looking statements reflect the current views of the Company’s management and assumptions based on information currently available to the Company’s management. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and the Company does not assume any obligation to update such statements, except as required by law.
This document does not constitute a prospectus within the meaning of Regulation (EU) 2017/1129 and does not constitute an offer to acquire securities. Any offer to acquire securities will be made, and any investor should make his investment, solely on the basis of information that will be contained in a prospectus to be made generally available in connection with such offering. When made generally available, copies of the prospectus may be obtained at no cost from bol.com or through the website of the bol.com. This press release is not intended for distribution in jurisdictions that require prior regulatory review and authorization to distribute a press release of this nature.

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