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    Ahold Finally Releases 2002 Sales Results

    ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold this morning issued its long-delayed audited consolidated 2002 results, which showed a net loss of 1,208 million euros, as well as slight sales increases at its U.S. stores.

    ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold this morning issued its long-delayed audited consolidated 2002 results, which showed a net loss of 1,208 million euros, as well as slight sales increases at its U.S. stores.

    Comparable and identical U.S. retail sales growth totaled 1.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, compared with 3.1 percent and 2.6 percent in 2001. Operating income before impairment and amortization of good will increased in 2002, compared with 2001, as a result of strong operating performance at the company's Stop & Shop, Giant-Landover, and Giant-Carlisle chains.

    In the Netherlands, identical sales growth at its Albert Heijn chain was 4.5 percent for 2002, while in other parts of Europe, Schuitema's net sales also increased by 4.5 percent. In Central Europe and Spain, the net sales increase was mainly attributed to store expansion.

    "The publication of these results is a major milestone that draws a line under recent events and enables us to move forward," Ahold president and c.e.o. Anders Moberg said in a statement.

    Ahold also announced that the audited 2002 financial statements were delivered to its syndicate of banks as required under its 2.65 billion-euro credit facility negotiated in March. As a result, Ahold had access to the unsecured tranche of $915 million. "Based on our current cash flow projections, we believe that we will not need access to the unsecured tranche," c.f.o. Hannu Ryopponen said.

    Commenting on the 2002 results, Moberg said: "The underlying performance of our operating companies in the aggregate was good in a year of increased competition and a weak economy. We have some very solid operations and strong brands. However, in many ways, it's been a lost year, difficult and negative. With 2002 now behind us, it's time to move forward and rebuild value for our customers and our shareholders."

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