Dutch supermarket and wholesale group Laurus has said that first-half sales at its core operations fell 7.6% to €2.3bn (US$2.6bn), due in part to economic conditions.

Laurus, the second largest food retailer in the Netherlands in terms of sales, said the decrease in sales was also due to the sale of stores to Sperwer and other parties.

On a like-for-like basis, sales at the group's low-price Edah stores were up 3.2%, while sales at Super De Boer stores fell 0.6%. Like-for-like sales at Konmar stores were down 7.6%, with the largest outlets in particular posting lower sales, reported Dow Jones International News.

The company plans to convert medium-sized Konmar stores to the Edah and Super De Boer banners in the second half of 2003 and in 2004.

French retailer Casino holds a 38.7% stake in Laurus and has an option to raise that to 51% until the end of 2008.