(Corrects fifth paragraph to show Ahold in northeast of U.S.,
* Q4 sales 7.835 bln euros vs Reuters poll average 7.84 bln
* U.S. identical store sales up 1.4 pct
* Dutch identical stores sales up 0.2 pct
BRUSSELS, Jan 17 Dutch grocer Ahold
said exceptionally strong U.S. sales, with customers stocking up
ahead of Hurricane Sandy, propelled group revenues by 5.1
percent in the final three months of last year.
Ahold, which runs Stop & Shop, Giant-Landover and
Giant-Carlisle in the United States and makes about 60 percent
of its sales in that country, said it grew market share in all
of its U.S. divisions.
The strong group sales growth in the final quarter compared
with 3.7 percent growth at constant exchange rate in the third
quarter and 3.0 percent in first nine months.
Sales at stores open for at least a year, and excluding
fuel, rose 1.4 percent in the United States.
Concentrated in the northeast of the country, Ahold's U.S.
stores have performed better than those of Belgian rival
Delhaize, with a greater presence in the southeast
Identical store sales in the Netherlands rose 0.2 percent in
the final three months of 2012, a slowdown from the 2.5 percent
in the third quarter and 1.5 percent in the second quarter.
Ahold said the deceleration in the final quarter was partly
caused by tough competition facing its vitamins-to-cosmetics
Ahold's main brand in the Netherlands, Dutch supermarket
leader Albert Heijn, increased its market share and opened three
additional stores in neighbouring Belgium, bringing the total
number in that country to 11.
The group said that identical sales at its stores in the
Czech Republic and Slovakia fell by 2.5 percent excluding fuel,
mainly caused by a increase in value-added tax.
Overall, sales came in at 7.835 billion euros ($10.4
billion), in line with the average forecast of 7.84 billion
euros in a Reuters poll of 12 analysts.
($1 = 0.7521 euros)
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip