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Dutch retailer Ahold has reported a strong third quarter with rises in sales, operating income and net income.

The company, which said it had seen volume growth in all its markets, reported sales up 4.3% to EUR6bn (US$8.97bn) compared to the same period last year. At constant exchange rates sales grew 2.6%, the company said today (18 November).

Operating income was up 1.5% to EUR265m, whilst net income reached EUR238m, up 22%. Income from continuing operations was up 27.8% to EUR239m.

CEO John Rishton said: “We have again delivered solid results in a challenging environment. Volumes grew in all markets with good sales performance in the US, reflecting ongoing investment in value for our customers. In the Netherlands, we continued to grow market share and again delivered a strong margin reflecting effective cost management. We continue to adapt to the challenging environment, balancing sales and margins while seeking to grow market share and volumes.

“To continue to provide value to our customers, we have launched a new EUR350m cost reduction programme for the three years ending in 2012. This programme will focus on all aspects of our business, including store expenses, supply chain, and overhead across the group. Separately, we will deliver additional sourcing cost savings over the same period.”

Retail operating income was EUR289m, with a retail operating margin of 4.8% compared to 4.9% last year.

For the first nine-months, net sales were EUR21.1bn, up 10.8%. At constant exchange rates, net sales increased by 4.5%.

Operating income was EUR956m, up 14.9%.

Income from continuing operations was up 16.9% to EUR684m, reflecting a higher operating income and lower income taxes partly offset by higher net financial expense and lower share in income of joint ventures.

Net income of EUR629m was down EUR165m, impacted significantly by discontinued operations.

The company said that its Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover business saw third quarter sales rise 1.9% to US$4bnn. Giant-Carlisle saw its net sales increase 0.8% to $1.1bn.

At Albert Heijn, for the third quarter, net sales were EUR2.1bn, up 5.4%. Net sales at Albert Heijn supermarkets totalled EUR1.9bn, up 4.9%, primarily due to the conversion of former Schuitema stores into the Albert Heijn format in the second half of 2008. Identical sales at Albert Heijn supermarkets decreased 0.4%.

The company’s Czech and Slovak businesses under the Albert/Hypernova banner saw net sales decrease 8% to EUR378m. At constant exchange rates, net sales decreased 3.5%, impacted by store closures as part of a restructuring programme.

For the full financial release, click here