Sales fell by 9.5% in the third quarter of 2020 compared with last year. The entire fall was organic. Cumulatively, sales for the first three quarters of 2020 were down by 14.4%. Excluding the additional sales generated in the first half of 2020 from the acquisition of De Kweker (since July 2019), the cumulative organic decline was 16.8%.
Our markets in the Netherlands and Belgium have suffered considerably from government measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. These significantly affected sales in the second quarter but the third quarter showed a strong recovery, partly as a result of the good summer. The recently announced measures in the Netherlands and Belgium mean that a new setback in sales can be expected in the fourth quarter.
We are nevertheless encouraged by the fact that we have been relatively less badly affected in these circumstances than other players in the market. Our market leadership in the Netherlands, major regional presence, combination of cash-and-carry and delivery service and widely diversified customer portfolio all contribute to our substantial outperformance of market (down 31.9% to 6 September, according to Foodstep) and so we are gaining market share. Our position is different in the Belgian market but there too we are performing better than average thanks to our customer portfolio mix, with a relatively large share in the care and cure market segment. This strengthens our belief that we will be able to recover quickly once the worst effects of Covid-19 have passed and may benefit from a possible further consolidation in the markets in both countries.
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