Ahold, the Dutch retail giant, has insisted it is making "progress" on plans to enter Belgium but has distanced itself from reports the company will open its first store in February.

Reports in the Netherlands have speculated that Ahold could launch its flagship Albert Heijn chain in Belgium in four months time.

The retailer has repeatedly stated its interest in entering Belgium and, speaking to just-food today (12 October), a spokesperson confirmed the company was working on plans but declined to comment on when a store could open.

"We are definitely very serious [and] we are taking the steps we need to be successful in Belgium. We'll take the time we need. We want to do this in the right way," the spokesperson said. "We're not the source of that date."

The spokesperson also refused to be drawn on whether Albert Heijn would be the format launched in Belgium.