HelloFresh Group said U.S. sales in its fiscal fourth quarter grew by 99.3% on strong gains in customers, orders and meals, and that Group revenues in the current quarter were running well ahead of full-year sales growth guidance announced in December.
The Berlin-based meal delivery company said U.S. sales in the period grew to 584.4 million euros (about $703 million U.S.) as its active U.S. customers grew by 46.4% to 2.61 million; U.S. orders increased by 82.4% to 10.9 million; and the 179 million meals delivered represented a 105% increase.
For the fiscal year, U.S. revenues of 2.1 billion euros (or nearly $2.5 billion) grew by 102.3%.
Overall Group sales for the fiscal year jumped by 107.3% to 3.75 billion euros.
“2020 was without a doubt marked by unprecedented events. On the basis of our robust infrastructure, we managed to scale up our operations quickly to accommodate the rising demand. I am very proud of the team for this incredible achievement of delivering over 600 million meals to our customers in the safe space of their homes," Dominik Richter, co-founder and CEO of HelloFresh, said in a statement. “Preparing and eating food at home has taken on a whole new meaning. As the pandemic hopefully winds down over the course of 2021, we expect consumers to continue to rely on e-commerce solutions to shop for food, as many have experienced the superior value proposition that we can offer in terms of price, variety and convenience.”
In a conference call discussing results, officials said they expected revenues in the current first quarter would grow by more than 70%, primarily from continued gains in new customers. The figure was well ahead of full-year guidance of 20% to 25% revenue growth announced first in December, but under questioning by analysts, Chief Financial Officer Christian Gaertner said it was “premature” to raise its outlook.
“What we assume is that there will be a return to normal seasonality in most of our markets throughout this year, and we also expect a certain normalization in terms of average order rate in the second half of this year,” Gaertner said, according to a Sentieo transcript.
And while the pandemic helped to open more consumer’s eyes to e-commerce and win share from traditional supermarkets, Richter pushed back on a notion advanced by an analyst that shoppers were “forced” into the option by conditions, noting supermarket remained open in the U.S. Rather, he said, they discovered HelloFresh as they pursued better ways to cook and eat while staying at home.
“No one was ever forced to order HelloFresh,” he said. “I think what happened—and what we’ve also heard from consumers—is that they obviously had more time at their hand to try out new things and to do some things that they haven’t done before. And that's certainly something that has benefited us a lot, but I don't think at any point in time during 2020, customers came to us because they felt kind of like they can't get food anywhere else and so I think that's important to keep in mind.”