International News - Ahold blames falling sales on price cuts

Ahold, the Dutch retailer embroiled in an accounting scandal last year, reported an 11 per cent slump in first-quarter sales.

Sales in the 16 weeks to April 18 fell from EUR17.33 billion last year to EUR15.4 billion (£11.55 billion to£10.27 billion), hit by the weak dollar.

The retailer also blamed price reductions and the sale of several businesses.

Net sales in Europe fell 0.9 per cent to EUR3.7 billion (£2.47 billion), caused partly by intensifying price comp-etition, especially in Spain.

Although same-store sales rose 1.1 per cent at premium grocer Albert Heijn, increased transactions were offset by a lower average basket size.

In the US, net sales fell 1.2 per cent to US$8.2 billion (£4.61 billion), while sales at Foodservice increased 4.6 per cent to US$5.5 billion (£3.09 billion), driven by inflation.

Ahold chief executive Anders Moberg said last month that recovery was on track.