by Miguel Silva Gonzalez, Senior Vice President and Treasurer, Delhaize Group
In recent years, particularly since our CFO, Pierre Bouchut, joined the business in 2012, we have taken a proactive approach to increasing free cash flow across the business. We benchmarked our EBITDA, capital expenditure as a percentage of sales and working capital against competitors, and found that Delhaize’s EBITDA margins are amongst the highest in the sector, with capital expenditure as a percentage of sales also broadly in line with our peers. However, this benchmarking process illustrated the need for improvements in working capital performance, with median net working capital of 2.4% of sales over the preceding three fiscal years. This compares with a negative net working capital position amongst most European food retailers.