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Ahold's Net Sales Drop; USF's Rise

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands - Net sales at troubled multinational retailer Ahold fell 11.3% in the first quarter, the company reported on Tuesday, May 11, while rising at scandalized U.S. Foodservice, according to news media reports.

Ahold reported consolidated first quarter net sales of 15.4 billion euros, or about $18.2 billion, an 11.3% decline from last year. The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar contributed 10% of the decline, Ahold said. The sell-off of some Ahold businesses also contributed to the sales decline, the company said.

Retail net sales in the U.S. fell by 1.2% to $8.2 billion, much of that decline coming from the sell-off of Ahold's Golden Gallon chain last year. But net sales at Ahold's Columbia, MD-based U.S. Foodservice division rose by 4.6 % to $5.5 billion, mainly driven by inflation, the company said.

Ahold is struggling to rebuild itself after the discovery of more than $850 million in accounting irregularities at U.S. Foodservice unit last year. New top executives have been brought in at both U.S. Foodservice and Ahold.

Last month, Ahold reported a net loss under Dutch accounting rules of 1 million euros for 2003, or $1.2 million compared with a net loss of 1.2 billion euros, or $1.4 billion, for 2002.

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