Delhaize CFO Emphasizes Organic Growth

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Delhaize CFO Emphasizes Organic Growth

BRUSSELS -- Delhaize Group, which is the parent company of Food Lion, Hannaford, and Sweetbay in the U.S., plans to continue focusing primarily on organic growth rather than growth through acquisitions, the company's c.f.o., Craig Owens, said yesterday during the group's annual investors' day. He noted, however, that the group would consider making acquisitions if the appropriate opportunities arise.

Owens said that Delhaize Group's focus is on building value in-store, and foresees further store openings both in the group's Belgian and U.S. operations to take advantage of the potential for organic growth, according to press reports.

Rick Anicetti, chief executive of Food Lion, said he expects his chain's new store growth to accelerate by between 10 and 15 stores each year. He added that the group would engage in the market renewal of 95-110 stores per year, and 35-40 remodels each year.

Anicetti additionally cited three "engines of growth" that Food Lion will continue using to build its future: health and wellness, home meal solutions, and private brands.

Ron Hodge, chief executive of Hannaford, discussed the Northeastern chain's price positioning, saying there has been no significant change in the price balance between its stores and those of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Wal-Mart's prices are 5 percent lower than Hannaford's, he said.)

As for Sweetbay, the banner that replaced Kash n' Karry in Florida, Hodge said it is working to grow its business model and move toward profitability. He noted that while the brand is strong, the banner has been working on its price image, as some customers have perceived it as more expensive than Kash n' Karry, although prices had remained stable.