Ahold operating income eases in first quarter

by Eric Schroeder
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AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS — Operating income at Ahold in the first quarter was €421 million ($566 million) down €3 million from the first quarter a year ago.

Net sales for the most recent quarter were €13.2 billion, down 0.7% from the same period last year.

Ahold operates the Stop & Shop and Giant chains in the United States and several large European chains, including its flagship supermarket Albert Heijn.

"The first quarter showed an encouraging start to the year," said Anders Moberg, president and chief executive officer. "We registered positive identical sales at all banners expect Giant-Landover, core retail operating margins are developing in line with our expectations, and significant progress was made on reducing core corporate center costs.

"Our divestment program is progressing well; we recently announced the agreement on the sale of U.S. Foodservice, subject to shareholder approval. Our Value Improvement Program at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover is being rolled out as planned and we see encouraging improvements in the way customers perceive price and quality."

Operating income at U.S. Foodservice in the first quarter was €104 million, which compared with €80 million in the same period a year ago. Sales rose 4.4% to €6.1 billion. Ahold attributed the improvement to lower operating costs.

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