Dutch retail giant Ahold has reported a net loss for the first quarter of 2004 as its results were hit by exceptional losses related to divestments.

The company posted a net loss of €405m (US$487.5m) for the first quarter of 2004, compared to net income of €84m in the year-ago period.

Net sales were €15.4bn, a decrease of 11.3% compared to the first quarter of 2003. However, the company said net sales growth was approximately 1.3% excluding currency impact and impact of divestments.

Anders Moberg, Ahold's president and CEO, said the company had already announced that 2004 would be a year of transition.

"In March we sold Bompreço and Hipercard in Brazil and we have completed our departure from Asia, all of which were important milestones on our 'Road to Recovery' program. The results were heavily impacted by the exceptional losses that we previously communicated relating to these divestments. Apart from these exceptional losses that have no impact on equity or cash, the main operating companies performed in line with our expectations," Moberg said.