Dutch grocery retailer Schuitema, majority owned by Ahold, has said its 2004 net profit rose 3.2% from the previous year, despite a price war in the Dutch supermarket sector.

The company posted net profit of €49.5m (US$64.4m), helped by cost cuts and efficiency measures, reported Reuters. Net sales rose 3.7% to €3.95bn.

Schuitema said it would not provide an earnings forecast for 2005 due to the negative economic outlook and the potentially unstable food retail environment.

A price war has been raging in the Dutch food retail market for more than a year, as supermarket chains such as Albert Heijn, also owned by Ahold, struggle to compete with hard discounters such as German chains Aldi and Lidl.