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Delhaize emphasizes private-brand implementation

SALISBURY, N.C. — Delhaize America is emphasizing its private-brand assortments, the supermarket conglomerate reported in its earnings release.

Delhaize said it forged ahead with its New Game Plan, which includes "important price investments," and noted that its U.S. operating companies — which include such banners as Food Lion, Bottom Dollar and Hannaford — are reinforcing their private-brand assortments through the introduction of a new value line called My Essentials.

"We intend to carry 500 My Essentials products in all our U.S. stores by the end of the second quarter of 2011," the company said. "Our target for U.S private brand is to reach 35% of total store revenues by the end of 2013, compared to approximately 27% at the end of 2010."

What's more, Delhaize Group said that effective March 1, Ron Hodge, who previously held the position of CEO of Delhaize America operations, has been promoted to CEO Delhaize America, replacing Pierre-Olivier Beckers, Delhaize Group president and CEO.

For the fourth quarter, revenues for Delhaize America totaled $4.7 billion, while its comparable-store sales for the quarter declined 0.8%, an improvement compared with a 1.8% decline in third quarter 2010. The comps improvement, Delhaize said, was due to improving trends in its southeastern stores, particularly its Hannaford banner.

For its operating profit, Delhaize America saw an increase of 28.6% to $296 million. Excluding the restructuring, store closing and impairment charge of $61 million in 2009, operating profit increased by 1.5% in fourth quarter 2010, as a result of cost-savings efforts, partly offset by continuous price investments at Food Lion. The operating margin increased to 6.3% of revenues, the highest quarterly U.S. operating margin in the last 10 years, Delhaize said.

For the year, Delhaize's U.S. operations posted a 1% decline in 2010 revenues, compared with last year. The supermarket conglomerate said its 2010 revenues totaled $18.8 billion, while its comparable-store sales also declined 2%, compared with 2009.