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Ahold to roll out more Peapod pickup points in 2013

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AMSTERDAM — Keeping stores open during Hurricane Sandy was one of the factors that contributed to an increase in total store sales and comps in the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 for Ahold USA, the supermarket operator's Dutch parent company said Thursday.

Ahold attributed its 4.3% increase in sales in the fourth quarter, to $6.1 billion, partially to the Hurricane Sandy effort. The quarter also saw comps increase by 2.4%, while full year sales were $25.8 billion, a 3.1% over 2011, as comps increased by 1.4%.

The company opened eight pickup points for Peapod, its online grocery service, in 2012, and opened a ninth one in New York on Wednesday, CEO Dick Boer said in a conference with analysts in Amsterdam Thursday to announce the results. The company is planning a further rollout of pickup points in the United States in 2013. The company also hopes to have 40% private-label penetration by 2016.

Other highlights included strong growth in loyalty programs, with 8-in-10 primary shoppers now participating. The presentation Thursday included a video introducing the program, which has allowed Ahold banners like Stop & Shop to collect data that it uses to adjust inventory. This includes the use of an in-house analytical tool called SKUBA — short for SKU Business Analyzer — which does a "deep dive" into each store's product assortment and allows managers to understand whether anything needs to be different by region, demographic or geography.

In addition, the company expressed satisfaction with the performance of 15 former Genuardi's stores in the Philadelphia area purchased from Safeway, which have since been converted to the Giant-Carlisle banner, as well as highlighting the rollout of ScanIt! Mobile to all of Stop & Shop stores and Giant-Landover's acquisition and conversion of two Fresh & Green's stores.