The strikes that took place in the wake of the announcement of a major restructuring within Delhaize weighed heavily on the results of the group in Belgium, said its president and CEO, Frans Muller, on Thursday, on the sidelines of the company’s presentation of its annual results. Delhaize Belgium’s revenue was down 3% to 4.9 billion euros in 2014, while its underlying operating profit fell by 40%. The group also had to face a one-time restructuring charge of 137 million euros related to its “Transformation Plan” which was originally announced last summer and was to affect 14 stores and 2,500 jobs.
Mid-February, management and unions finally agreed to limit the number of jobs lost to 1800, thanks to early retirement at 55 and voluntary redundancies. 9 stores will also no longer be directly operated and there will be a supermarket closure “in the coming months.”
“The savings we’ll make – about 80 million euros a year starting in 2018, Editors Note – will allow us to implement our business strategy in the coming years,” indicated the group head, which entails in particular modernising our network of stores, focusing more on services and investing in our IT. Delhaize admits it has “not sufficiently invested” in its Belgian stores and plans to focus on its pricing policy, aiming to improve how customers perceive the brand’s prices.
The company will also have to manage without Pierre-Olivier Beckers, CEO of the group between 1999 and 2013 and a director since 1995. He has said he does not wish to be reappointed to the Board of Directors at next May 28th’s AGM. Didier Smits, who has been on the board since 1996, has expressed similar wishes. Delhaize has given no explanation as to the why of these decisions, simply stating “we are in the latter stages of discussion with potential candidates for appointment at the Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders.”
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)