November 13, 2018 / 12:07 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Ahold Delhaize expects online sales to double to around $8 bln

(Adds more detail on 2019 goals)

AMSTERDAM, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch-Belgian operator of grocery stores in Europe and the United States, said on Tuesday it expects to double its online sales to around 7 billion euros ($8 billion) by 2021.

“In the next three years, Ahold Delhaize expects to deliver comparable sales growth and market share gains as well as a doubling of net consumer online sales”, the company said ahead of its capital markets day.

The operator of U.S. supermarket chains Stop & Shop, Food Lion and Giant last week said it would raise its original 2020 online sales target of 5 billion euros, after a 21.5 percent surge in the third quarter.

Ahold Delhaize’s stores face tough competition from discounters Lidl and Aldi, while its online grocery delivery business, Peapod, faces competition from Amazon after its acquisition of Whole Foods.

The company expects to invest 2 billion euros next year in the improvement of its delivery network and in repositioning Stop & Shop, its largest U.S. brand, while cutting costs by a total of 1.8 billion euros in the coming three years.

It also forecast high single-digit growth of earnings per share in 2019, after an expected increase to 1.50-1.60 euros this year, and said it would buy back 1 billion euros in shares next year.

$1 = 0.8895 euros Reporting by Bart Meijer, editing by David Evans

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