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Ahold Reports Sales Decline while U.S. Foodservice Gains

Zaandam, The Netherlands - Royal Ahold reported a sales decline for 2003 while its scandal-ridden U.S. broadline subsidiary, U.S. Foodservice, posted sales gains for the period.

Ahold reported preliminary and unaudited consolidated net sales for 2003 through Dec. 28 of 56.1 billion euros ($72 billion), a decline of 10.5% compared with 62.7 billion euros ($80.5 billion) generated in the previous year. The overall impact of acquisitions and divestments on net sales growth in 2003 was 0.7%.

In the fourth quarter (12 weeks through Dec. 28), sales amounted to 12.7 billion euro ($16.3 billion), a 10.8% decrease over the 14.3 billion euros ($18.4 billion) generated in the same quarter in 2002. The overall impact of acquisitions and divestments on net sales growth in the fourth quarter was a decrease 1.4%.

Sales were significantly impacted by lower currency exchange rates, in particular that of the U.S. dollar; sales excluding currency impact increased by 2.7% in 2003 and 0.7% in the fourth quarter.

Net sales at U.S. Foodservice, Columbia, MD, increased by 2.3% to $17.8 billion, compared with $17.4 billion in the previous year. In the fourth quarter, sales at U.S. Foodservice increased by 6% to $4.2 billion, compared with $3.9 billion in 2002.

The acquisition of Allen Foods in December 2002 and Lady Baltimore in September 2002 contributed approximately 1.5% to the sales growth in 2003 and 0.9% in the fourth quarter.

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