Beleaguered Dutch retail giant Ahold has reported consolidated sales of €13.0bn (US$15.2bn) for the third quarter to 5 October, a decline of 7.1% compared to the year-ago period.

The company, which is struggling to recover from a massive accounting scandal, said sales were significantly impacted by the lower currency exchange rates of the US dollar in particular. Sales excluding currency impact increased by 2.7%.

Ahold also said its sales were hit by the persistent weak global economy and fierce competition.

Net sales of Ahold's US retail operations rose 3.3% to US$6.2bn, while comparable sales edged up 1.1%.

The company's European retail sales rose 0.3% to €3.0bn, as lower sales at Albert Heijn were offset by sales growth at Schuitema and at Ahold's central Europe and Spain operations.
Net sales at U.S. Foodservice increased by 5.9% to US$4.3bn. The acquisition of Allen Foods and Lady Baltimore in December and September of 2002, respectively, contributed approximately 2% to the sales growth, Ahold said.
In South America sales amounted to €511m, down 12.8% compared to last year, caused by the disposal of Santa Isabel Chile in July of 2003.
In Asia sales declined 28% to €78m due to the sale of most of the assets of Ahold Malaysia and Ahold Indonesia in the course of the third quarter of 2003.
Ahold said it expects operating income for full-year 2003 to be impacted by continued pressure on margins, primarily at U.S. Foodservice. Ahold also expects professional fees of lawyers, accountants and other advisors to be in excess of €100m in 2003.