Stockholm / SE. (axf) Sweden’s Axfood AB concludes an eventful and historic year with a strong fourth quarter where growth was higher than the market and earnings improved. The Group’s concepts strengthen their market positions, and in addition major structural changes are being carried out that will create the prerequisites for long-term, profitable and sustainable growth. President and CEO Klas Balkow’s comments on the year-end report for 2021: «The intense year of 2021 concluded with a strong fourth quarter. Our growth in store sales of 3.1 percent meant we grew faster than the market, and we also posted improved earnings and an operating margin of 4.3 percent.»
«As we look back on a historic year characterised by a high pace of development, we can now say that 2021 was probably the most eventful year in Axfood’s history. We have operated during a pandemic that has challenged with new customer behaviour and purchasing patterns, during which our main focus has been the well-being of our employees and customers. At the same time, we have made comprehensive investments in our future logistics structure and digital development, and acquired the wholesale business Bergendahls Food and a minority stake in the hypermarket chain City Gross. In December, we announced another important strategic deal, the partnership with Mathem, which is currently being examined by the Swedish Competition Authority. It is gratifying to finish what has perhaps been the most intense and exceptional year for Axfood to date with a strong year-end report. A year in which we took major and important steps for the continued development of our Group.»
Fourth quarter summary
- On 1 October, the acquisition of Bergendahl Food AB and a minority stake of 9.9 percent in City Gross Sverige AB was completed.
- Net sales increased 25.1 percent to SEK 17,062 m (13,663). Net sales excluding Bergendahls Food increased 5.6 percent.
- Store sales for the Axfood Group totalled SEK 12,424 m (12,047), an increase of 3.1 percent.
- Operating profit amounted to SEK 739 m (566) and included items affecting comparability of SEK 86 m. The operating margin was 4.3 percent (4.1). Adjusted operating profit amounted to SEK 653 m (566), an increase of 15.5 percent. The adjusted operating margin was 3.8 percent (4.1).
- Net profit for the period amounted to SEK 608 m (409) and earnings per share before dilution to SEK 2.92 (2.02).
- Axfood entered into an agreement for a strategic partnership with Mathem, becoming a new co-owner of the company with a shareholding of 16.5 percent, by divesting Mat.se in exchange for shares in Mathem. Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by the Swedish Competition Authority.
- Raised profitability target of a long-term operating margin of at least 4.5 percent (previously at least 4.0 percent).
Summary January to December
- Net sales totalled SEK 57,891 m (53,696), an increase of 7.8 percent. Net sales excluding Bergendahls Food increased 2.8 percent.
- Store sales for the Axfood Group totalled SEK 47,835 m (46,954), an increase of 1.9 percent.
- Operating profit amounted to SEK 2,704 m (2,510). The operating margin was 4.7 percent (4.7). Adjusted operating profit amounted to SEK 2,690 m (2,510), an increase of 7.2 percent. The adjusted operating margin was 4.6 percent (4.7).
- Net profit for the period amounted to SEK 2,094 m (1,862) and earnings per share before dilution to SEK 10.28 (9.12).
Significant events after the balance sheet date
- The Board of Directors proposes an increased dividend of SEK 7.75 per share (7.50). The dividend is split into two payments, SEK 4.00 per share in March 2022 and SEK 3.75 per share in September 2022.
Investments and store establishments 2022
- Axfood’s investments in 2022 are expected to amount to between SEK 2,600 and 2,700 m, excluding acquisitions and right-of-use assets.
- During 2022, Axfood plans to establish 8-13 new stores.
For additional information please read the company’s PDF file below (586 KB).20220203-AXFOOD-Q4-2021