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Ahold Reports 2003 Third-Quarter Sales

ZAANDAM, the Netherlands - Ahold today announced consolidated net sales for the third quarter of the year (12 weeks through Oct. 5) of 13.0 billion euros, a decline of 7.1 percent, compared with 14.0 billion euros generated in the 2002 third quarter.

In the United States, net sales (in U.S. dollars) of Ahold USA's retail division in increased by 3.3 percent to US$6.2 billion, while comparable sales increased by 1.1 percent, and identical sales increased by 0.3 percent.

In Europe, the beleaguered company's sales rose 0.3 percent to 3.0 billion euros. Ahold said lower sales at Albert Heijn were offset by sales growth at Schuitema, Central Europe, and Spain.

Net sales at U.S. Foodservice increased by 5.9 percent to US$4.3 billion, partially achieved by low-margin business. The acquisition of Allen Foods and Lady Baltimore in December and September 2002, respectively, contributed approximately 2 percent to the sales growth, according to the company.

In South America, sales amounted to 511 million euros, down 12.8 percent compared with last year, caused by the disposal of Santa Isabel Chile in July 2003.

In Asia, sales declined 28 percent to 78 million euros, due to the sale of most of the assets of Ahold Malaysia and Ahold Indonesia in the course of the third quarter of 2003.

Ahold said it expects operating income for full-year 2003 to be impacted by continued pressure on margins, primarily at U.S. Foodservice. The international retailer said it also expects professional fees of lawyers, accountants, and other advisers to exceed 100 million euros in 2003.
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