Belgian retailer Delhaize "Le Lion" has reported a 4% slump in 2003 profits to €171.3m (US$193.8m).

The owner of the US supermarket chains Food Lion and Kash n' Karry attributed the disappointing performance to the weak dollar and increased competition in the US. Overall sales fell by 9% to €18.8bn, but would have increased by 4.2% if currency fluctuations had not exercised a negative impact, it was reported.

Profits were nevertheless slightly higher than forecast, in a difficult climate, and the company expressed optimism for the year ahead. 2004 sales growth is forecast at 2.5-3.5%.