Group net sales were£52 billion last year, down from£56.1 billion the year before. In the US, Ahold's net sales in dollars rose 10.2 per cent during the 13 weeks to January 2 this year, to US$6.9 billion (£4.84 billion). However, the fourth quarter for 2003 consisted of only 12 weeks. If that period were adjusted to 13 weeks, like-for-like sales in the US would have fallen by 0.78 per cent.
In its European operations, net sales increased from Eu3.2 billion (£2.24 billion) to Eu3.3 billion (£2.31 billion). Net sales would have fallen 4.2 per cent compared with the adjusted fourth quarter of 2003.