Sales in the first half of 2019 were €1,135 million, up 0.4% on the corresponding period in 2018. Operating profit from continuing operations fell €13 million to €18 million. Net profit from continuing operations declined by €12 million to €13 million in the first six months of the year.
Koen Slippens, CEO: "The economic climate in the Netherlands and Belgium cooled considerably in the first half of the year. The decline in consumer confidence in both countries once again looks to be a predictor of market trends. In the Netherlands, we witnessed a slight upturn in the market, which is primarily price-driven. In Belgium, the market is contracting. There was a substantial rise in logistics, energy and staff costs.
All in all, these are challenging conditions for us and our competitors and so it is important that we make progress for the future, but at the same time steer the business through the current market.
In the Netherlands, sales increased in line with the market and we were able to absorb price increases in the operation to a reasonable extent. In addition to our day-to-day operations, we are working on a number of large projects such as our SAP implementation and the integration of Heineken. The carve-out of retail was also completed at the end of June. The combination of these activities has meant, however, that we have not yet reduced the costs of our central organisation to the extent we feel is necessary to absorb the loss of cover from retail.
In Belgium, we significantly outperformed the market, partly thanks to the good progress we have made with our new outlet in Antwerp in the course of the first six months of the year. We know that sales in Antwerp need to grow further to achieve break-even operations. In addition, we are building on our infrastructure and a single head office organisation for Sligro Food Group Belgium. In Belgium, too, we need to make investments so that we can reap the benefits later."
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