Royal Ahold Delhaize NV raised its forecast for the year as it weathered soaring inflation, but pulled plans to publicly list its Dutch e-commerce unit Bol.com due to volatile equity market conditions.
The Stop & Shop owner said it now expects underlying earnings per share to grow at a mid-single-digit rate this fiscal year relative to 2021 as customers continue to head to its stores despite rising prices. It previously only expected to match 2021 growth levels. Ahold also raised its free cash flow guidance and said it still expects its adjusted operating margin to be at least 4% this year.
Although the retailer has pulled the initial public offering of its online Bol.com unit it could pursue the plan at a later date “when equity
market conditions are more conducive,” according to comments published with its earnings report.
Bol.com was founded in 1999 as Europe’s first online bookstore. Ahold bought it in 2012 and it is now the largest online retail platform in the Benelux region and has expanded to selling general merchandise products.
Ahold proposed a sub-IPO last year that would have offered a small stake in Bol.com on Euronext Amsterdam with the grocer retaining significant control in the long-term.
“We’re absolutely convinced in Bol as a strong future-
focused brand for us,” said Chief Executive Officer Natalie Knight in an interview.