(Adds company comments on Ahold talks)
BRUSSELS, May 28 (Reuters) - Delhaize’s Greek operations would survive if the country were to leave the common European currency, the finance chief of the Belgian supermarket operator said on Thursday.
“Even in such a case, though the pain would hurt for a while in our accounts, we are confident Alpha Beta in Greece would survive, would continue to gain market share and could even profit from the difficult environment for other Greek retailers,” Chief Financial Officer Pierre Bouchut told reporters.
Bouchut added that growth in the group’s same store sales in the United States in April was similar to that seen in the first quarter but was driven by the group selling more items rather than by inflation.
In the first quarter, same store sales in the United States rose 2.5 percent, with retail inflation at 1.2 percent.
The group made no further comments about preliminary talks with Dutch grocer Ahold about a possible tie-up of the two companies, beyond reading out a press release distributed two weeks ago which confirmed talks were taking place.
President of the board Mats Jansson said he had temporarily stepped down from an advisory position at investment bank JPMorgan after reports in the Belgian media that this constituted a conflict of interest.
“Given the preliminary talks between Ahold and Delhaize and in order to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest, I have decided to temporarily suspend my advisory role at JPMorgan,” Jansson told shareholders.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, editing by David Evans