US supermarket chain The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) has reported a wider third-quarter net loss but said it had maintained its market share.

The company posted a net loss of US$75.3m, or $1.96 per share, for the 12 weeks to 4 December, compared to a net loss of $25.3m, or 66 cents per share, for the same period of the previous year.

Sales for the third quarter were $2.52bn, compared with $2.48bn in the third quarter of fiscal 2003. Comparable store sales for company-operated stores declined 1.0% from the year-ago period.

“Although we remained unprofitable overall, we maintained market share in a difficult sales environment, while achieving our second consecutive year-over-year increase in operating results,” said Christian Haub, chairman and chief executive officer.

The company said its Canadian operations produced another profitable performance with strong results from fresh food marketing initiatives, and an improving trend in A&P’s Food Basics discount operations. The company added that its US operations continued to improve despite intense competition in all markets.

“Our near-term outlook remains conservative as we expect no major upturn in consumer confidence and spending in the US, and therefore no easing of competitive pressures. We will continue to manage costs, investment and liquidity closely, maintain our successful growth course in Canada, and implement our US retail strategies, as the benefits of our leaner organisation and cost structure materialise,” Haub added.