Dutch retail group Ahold has beat analysts expectations for the second quarter of its financial year, reporting net sales of €5.8 billion (£4.57 billion).

For the quarter to July 13, 2008, Ahold’s net sales fell 0.8 per cent, but rose 7.3 per cent at constant exchange rates.

Net sales at Ahold’s US operations – grocer Shop & Stop and pharmacy chain Giant-Landover – climbed 1.7 per cent to US$4 billion (£2.02 billion). Sales rose 2.2 per cent at Shop & Stop – excluding petrol – and decreased 1.5 per cent at Giant-Landover, excluding petrol.

At Ahold’s Dutch chain Albert Heijn, net sales climbed 14.2 per cent to €2.1 billion (£1.65 billion).

Analyst Citigroup said Ahold’s group sales were 2 per cent ahead of its forecast and the market consensus. Citigroup said: “Given several profit warnings from other US food retailers, there were many nerves ahead of these figures. However, Ahold’s reiteration of FY08 margin guidance (4.8 to 5.3 per cent) knocks out the worst fears and, overall, we think this statement should reassure a worried market.”