Dutch retail giant still in 'transition' as it emerges from watchdog scrutiny
Beleaguered Dutch grocery giant Ahold has returned poor figures in its third quarter financial statement. It recorded a net loss of Eu166 million (£116.2 million), up from a loss of Eu100 million (£70 million) for the same period a year ago.

The operating loss was Eu37 million (£25.9 million) and net sales were Eu12 billion (£8.4 billion), a drop of 8.3 per cent on the third quarter last year. The retailer, which has substantial holdings in the US, blamed the weak dollar for the slip in sales.

Ahold also cited ongoing investigations into its business practices as a barrier to any turnaround. The retailer said: 'Our operating expenses will continue to be impacted by costs related to legal proceedings and investigations.'

However, Ahold president and chief executive Anders Moberg was determined to put a brave face on the situation. He said: 'This quarter again shows that 2004 is very much a year of transition. In brief, we have reached final settlement with the SEC and Dutch public prosecutor; divested our Spanish operations, transferring our controlling interest in Disco to Cencosud, and started divesting our remaining 13 large Polish supermarkets.

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