By Maarten van Tartwijk

AMSTERDAM--Dutch supermarket operator Royal Ahold NV (AH.AE), on the verge of completing a merger with Belgium's Delhaize Group (DELB.BT), said Wednesday its first-quarter earnings improved thanks to an increase in sales and cost-savings.

Net profit in the first three months of this year rose 13% from a year ago to 241 million euros ($269 million), while underlying operating profit increased 15% to 449 million euros. Sales rose 4% to 11.8 billion euros, driven by the U.S. and the Netherlands as well as strong online sales.

Ahold reiterated that its planned merger with Delhaize was scheduled for completion by the middle of this year. The deal still requires approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Ahold said the review is currently underway.

The tie-up will create one of the largest grocery chains in the U.S. and Europe, with more than 6,500 stores on two continents and 375,000 employees. In the U.S., the merger will combine Ahold's Stop & Shop and Giant stores with Delhaize's Food Lion and Hannaford chains.

Write to Maarten van Tartwijk at maarten.vantartwijk@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 01, 2016 01:38 ET (05:38 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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