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    Ahold's Preliminary 4Q Consolidated Net Sales Up Slightly; U.S. Divisions' Results Mixed

    AMSTERDAM -- Royal Ahold here reported preliminary consolidated net sales, excluding currency impacts and an extra calendar week in 2004, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 of 10.8 billion euros (US $13.0 billion), a 0.6 percent increase. The overall performance of the retail giant's U.S. operations, which also Giant-Carlisle/Tops arena and U.S. Foodservice, was decidedly mixed, however.

    AMSTERDAM -- Royal Ahold here reported preliminary consolidated net sales, excluding currency impacts and an extra calendar week in 2004, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 of 10.8 billion euros (US $13.0 billion), a 0.6 percent increase. The overall performance of the retail giant's U.S. operations, which also Giant-Carlisle/Tops arena and U.S. Foodservice, was decidedly mixed, however.

    Ahold adjusted last year's comparable figure downward because it had included an additional week in its financial quarter that year.

    Net sales in the Stop & Shop/Landover Arena increased 2.3 percent for the quarter, while identical sales rose 0.5 percent at Stop & Shop and 0.1 percent in the arena -- the latter percentage excluding net gasoline sales -- as a result of solid sales during the holidays. At Giant-Landover, identical sales decreased 1.0 percent. Comparable sales went up 1.3 percent at Stop & Shop and dipped 0.7 percent at Giant-Landover. For fiscal 2005, net sales grew 3.5 percent in the arena to $16 billion. Stop & Shop's identical sales edged up 0.2 percent and its comparable sales rose 0.7 percent, while Giant-Landover's identical sales declined 3.0 percent and its comparable sales fell 2.4 percent.

    For the Giant-Carlisle/Tops Arena, meanwhile, fourth-quarter net sales plunged 8.1 percent to $1.4 billion. Excluding the arena's divested convenience stores, net sales went down 3.2 percent. Giant-Carlisle's identical sales rose 2.9 percent. Excluding gasoline sales, they grew 2.4 percent, mainly because of strong holiday sales. Identical sales at Tops, however, fell 8.3 percent. Excluding gas sales, they decreased 8.7 percent, reflective of poor sales in the banner's northeast Ohio market area. While comparable sales at Giant-Carlisle increased 5.1 percent, they dropped 7.5 percent at Tops. Fiscal 2005 net arena sales went up 0.5 percent to $6.0 billion, excluding the divested c-stores. Identical stores rose 3.6 percent at Giant-Carlisle and fell 4.7 percent at Tops, while comparable sales grew 5.1 percent at Giant-Carlisle and decreased 3.9 percent at Tops.

    Although fourth-quarter net sales at U.S. Foodservice increased 1.0 percent to $4.2 billion, they were adversely affected by about 2 percent as a result of Ahold's decision to exit certain businesses as part of the division's restructuring. For fiscal 2005, U.S. Foodservice's net sales went down 0.4 percent to $18.5 billion, with sales affected by about 2 percent because of the decision to exit some businesses.

    Ahold's flagship Albert Hejn supermarkets reported net sales increases of 6.5 percent for the quarter and 5.1 percent for the fiscal year, but results of the company's other European arenas were uneven. In particular, the Central Europe Arena was adversely affected by stiff competition and negative publicity relating to "the quality of certain perishable [products, which] is being addressed."

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