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Etablissements Delhaize Frères et Cie "Le Lion" (Groupe Delhaize) Société Anonyme (DEG)
Q1 2013 Earnings Call
May 08, 2013 3:00 am ET
Frederic van Daele
Pierre-Olivier Beckers - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director
Pierre Bruno Charles Bouchut - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President
Fabienne Caron - Kepler Capital Markets, Research Division
John Kershaw - Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division
Fernand de Boer - Petercam S.A., Research Division
James G. Collins - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division
Robert Joyce - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division
James Grzinic - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division
Robert Jan Vos - ABN AMRO Bank N.V., Research Division
Cedric Lecasble - Raymond James Euro Equities
Frederic van Daele
Previous Statements by DEG
» Etablissements Delhaize Frères et Cie "Le Lion" (Groupe Delhaize) SA Management Discusses Q4 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript
» Delhaize Group CEO Discusses Q2 2010 Results - Earnings Call Transcript
» Delhaize Group. Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript
I will now turn over to Pierre-Olivier Beckers.
Thank you, Frederic. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining our conference call to discuss our first quarter results. This morning, we also announced my intention to retire as CEO by the end of this year. I will remain thereafter as a non-Executive Director on the Board of Directors. After serving Delhaize Group for 30 years, of which nearly 15 years as CEO, I did not make this decision lightly. I think you all know my passion for this company, my enthusiasm for retail and my deep sense of responsibility. In addition, I can assure you that my energy level is absolutely intact. Nonetheless, the Board of Directors and I have agreed that the time is right to move forward into a succession plan. So why? And why now?
Choosing the appropriate moment for a CEO to retire is by no means, an exact science. Sometimes, there is a right time and now, it's that time. First of all, I have always been transparent and outspoken about my conviction that no one should have a sort of divine and permanent right to his or her job. And so, this applies to me as well. I have said that it is healthy and important from time to time for a company to install a new person at the top. Someone who will bring new thinking and a fresh pair of eyes to the reality, the challenges and opportunities facing the company. In addition, it is clear that after a challenging last couple of years, Delhaize Group is building again momentum as indicated by our results of the last 3 quarters. Our stock price has responded well. There is more stability in our operations. We are moving in the right direction.
And as I look into the future, I am confident that we have great strength. And I'm realistic that we face challenges as well. It is the nature of our industry that you must constantly reinvent yourself to capture growth where it will be tomorrow and to avoid the risk of becoming irrelevant to your customers. We are no exception. And this is why, now is the right time to start looking to my successor. We need to appoint a new captain who will bring his or her new thinking and then lead the company for many years as we execute our strategy. As a consequence, the Board and I are now actively engaged in a process that will consider both internal and external candidates, and that is designed to provide for a smooth and orderly transition by the end of this year.
In the meantime, I remain fully committed to lead our company and support each and every one of our 158,000 associates to the best of my ability. There will be no void of leadership. I am staying firmly at the helm until a smooth transition has taken place. And so, with this spirit in mind, I will now start the review of our Q1 results.
You will be familiar by now but that I will use a Slide presentation for this call, which you can find in the website in case you did not receive it by mail this morning. On Slide 3, we show the highlights of the first quarter and you can see that our Group recorded an accelerating organic growth at 3.8%. We have, in particular, a strong quarter in the U.S. comparable store sales growth of 1.9% with a further improved results compared to the second half of last year, especially if you consider that we were still running with around 50 basis points of deflation. Both Food Lion and, to a lower degree, Hannaford, experienced significant positive regrowth. Our profitability saw a strong recovery. This was boosted by favorable weather conditions, cost savings, lower losses at Bottom Dollar Food and the benefit from closing underperforming stores.