Ahold struggles as US profits slide

Ahold admitted that it is struggling against strong competition in the US as it posted weaker than expected second-quarter profits.

The Dutch retailer, engulfed in an accounting scandal at its US Foodservice arm last year, revealed that sales and operating profits had dipped.

Net sales for the period were down 4.9 per cent to EUR12.3 billion (£8.31 billion). Operating income was EUR169 million (£114.2 million) against EUR222 million (£150 million) a year ago. While Ahold's European business and Foodservice posted improved operating incomes, the US retail arm performed below par - down 29.9 per cent compared with last year.

Ahold chief executive officer Anders Moberg said: 'Our results for US retail continue to be impacted by strong competition. We've also experienced pressure on operating expenses, and incurred fixed asset impairment charges and costs associated with the integration of Giant-Landover and Stop & Shop.

'This integration process is proceeding to plan. As this huge task progresses, we will begin to see the full impact on our competitive position.'

Ahold has been integrating the Giant-Landover and Stop & Shop chains to improve efficiency. Wal-Mart's continued US expansion has also put pressure on Ahold.

Separately, Ahold supervisory board chairman Karel Vuursteen has resigned for personal reasons. He will stay on the board until May 18.