Proof that Ahold's regeneration program, 'Road to Recovery', appears to be bearing fruit came today (21 June) when the Dutch retailer announced that profits for the first quarter were up by 76% year on year, boosted by higher sales and lower interest charges.

Net sales rose by 8.6% compared with the comparable period of last year, to EUR14.1bn (US$17.8bn), although if currency conversion is taken into account this represents an increase of 2.1%.

Operating income was increased by EUR109m, or 31.5%, to EUR455m. Retail income was up EUR44m, 11.6%, to EUR424, an operating margin of 4.6%. US Foodservice increased by EUR50m to EUR66m, an operating margin of 1.4%.

Income before tax increased by EUR156m to EUR316m, reflecting increased sales, improved operating income, reduced financial costs and improved income from JVs. Net profit attributable to shareholders stood at EUR236 million, or EUR0.15 cents a share, versus EUR134 million, or EUR0.09 cents a share the same period a year earlier.
However, net debt also rose by EUR170m to EUR5.7bn as the reduction in cash balances more than offset gross debt reduction of EUR200m.