Dutch food giant insists recovery is on track
Dutch food giant Ahold's profits have nosedived in the first quarter of this year. Net income fell by 55 per cent from Eu298 million (£199.7 million) in the first quarter of last year to Eu134 million (£89.8 million) in the same period this financial year. The retailer blamed the plunge on a revaluing of its stake in Scandinavian joint venture ICA.

Operating income was broadly level, falling from Eu349 million (£233.9 million) last year to Eu346 million (£231.9 million) this year. Net sales also dipped slightly by 1 per cent to Eu13 billion.

The retailer said its performance had been hit by its US operations. Its largest supermarket group, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover, reported a 7.8 per cent drop in operating profit, while operating profit at its other main US retail unit, Giant Carlisle/Tops, fell by 26 per cent.

However, Ahold chief executive officer Anders Moberg (pictured) was optimistic that the retailer would stick to its recovery plan. He said: 'We have set ourselves challenging targets that we are striving to hit. Based on the successful completion of various harmonisation initiatives and our divestment programme, our operating targets for our food retail business for the full year next year remain 5 per cent net sales growth, 5 per cent operating margin and 14 per cent return on net assets. I am happy with where we are at this point in time.'