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UPDATE: U.S. Foodservice to Post Positive Earnings - Moberg

ZAANDAM, The Netherlands - Anders Moberg, ceo of Dutch retailer Ahold, in his keynote address today at the annual shareholders meeting, repeated the company's assertion that its U.S. Foodservice division in Columbia, MD, will post positive earnings before interest, tax and amortization in 2004, according to news reports.

"But this is excluding any restructuring charges," Moberg cautioned at the meeting. Furthermore, he said, no later than 2006, the multinational retailer's target for U.S. Foodservice is to exceed its 2002 adjusted EBITA margin.

Moberg said Ahold's road to recovery includes recovering the value of U.S. Foodservice. "We have communicated a three-step plan to be done over 18-24 months, focused on putting the basics in place. Rigorous internal control and strong corporate governance were the main focus points in 2003," he explained. "We have now started work on the next phase: restoring profitability and cash flow. We are focused on driving core capabilities and business performance."

Among Moberg's plans for U.S. Foodservice are:
  • implementing our corporate SIS promotional allowance tracking system this year;
  • building the organization by installing a strong leadership and financial team and restructuring our regional field operations;
  • developing a plan to integrate our IT systems - called US Fast - to be implemented over a 18 month period; and
  • renegotiating with about 125 vendors to restore lost procurement leverage.

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