Dutch retail giant Ahold on Tuesday posted a seven-fold jump in net income for the first quarter year-on-year, boosted by the mega sale of its stake in Swedish supermarket chain ICA earlier this year.
Ahold posted 1.95 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in net earnings, as opposed to 285 million euros the same time last year, mainly resulting from selling its 60 percent stake in ICA to Stockholm-based Hakon Invest, the Amsterdam-based group said in a statement.
Ahold announced the deal in February, saying Tuesday it raked in 1.75 billion euros as a result.
Meanwhile Ahold's overall sales grew by 4.4 percent to a total of 10.12 billion euros as the company, which runs brands such as Albert Heijn supermarkets in Europe and Stop & Shop and Giant Food Stores in the eastern United States, continued to gain market shares particularly online.
"We are pleased with the strong sales performance of our online businesses, partly driven by the success of our pick-up points and with our expansion into Belgium," chief executive Dick Boer said.
Sales in the Netherlands grew by 7.5 percent "in a market where consumer confidence remains low", while US-based sales grew by 3.4 percent, measured in dollars, "with ongoing levels of promotional activity," Boer said.
The latest results were consistent with Ahold's strategy announced in late 2011 in which it aimed to capitalise on online sales and higher penetration into the United States, as well as opening new stores in Europe, especially in Belgium.
Despite good figures, the group remained cautious in its outlook for 2013 as it focused on keeping costs down while investing in growth and giving shareholders attractive returns.
Ahold owns about 3,000 stores in North America and Europe and employs around 218,000 people.