Peapod Inc. today reported record sales for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2000. It will close its San Francisco distrbution center.

Peapod Inc. today reported record sales for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2000. Fourth quarter sales increased 11% to $23.7 million compared with $21.4 million for the same quarter in 1999. This sales growth is particularly significant because Peapod closed four markets in mid-September 2000 (Austin, Houston and Dallas, Texas and Columbus, Ohio), Peapod said. Excluding these closed markets, sales were up 45% for the quarter versus the same period a year ago, representing significant demand for Peapod`s services and faster growth then expected in new markets.

For the full year ended December 31, 2000, net sales increased 28% to $92.8 million compared with $72.7 million for 1999. The company reported a net loss, excluding preferred stock dividends of $56.8 million or $3.15 per share, compared with a net loss of $28.5 million or $1.62 per share for 1999.

Peapod now says revenues are projected to grow approximately 40% for the full year with gross margin expected in the 30% range. The company is on track to reach profitability in Chicago and in one East Coast market by mid-2001. The company aims to reach profitability by year-end 2003 and expects a smaller loss than previously anticipated per common share in 2001, in the range of $3.40 to $3.60 per common share. As of December 31, 2000, the company had available for funding its operations approximately $14.7 million in cash and cash equivalents and a $20 million credit facility with parent Ahold. The credit facility currently remains unused. The company expects its cash needs for the remainder of 2001 to be approximately $50 million, requiring the company to complete a financing in the near future in order to continue operations. Although there are no written commitments in place, the company is in discussions with Ahold regarding an increase in availability under the credit facility and additional financing. The company also announced that it will close its distribution center serving San Francisco to focus exclusively on pursuing its “clicks and bricks” business strategy in partnership with Ahold USA supermarket companies. As part of this strategy, Peapod has ended its supply arrangement with retailer Jewel-Osco in Chicago and has begun procuring certain dry goods and health and beauty aids for this market through Ahold subsidiaries, including Cleveland-based Tops Market. Supply and service agreements with Ahold are now in place in all markets in which Peapod will continue to operate. In addition to the new arrangement in Chicago, Peapod continues close relationships with Ahold subsidiaries, Stop & Shop to serve Boston, Long Island, N.Y., and Fairfield County, Conn., and Giant Food to serve the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.