Ahold cuts losses to EUR 1m
19 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — Ahold booked a net loss of EUR 1 million for 2003, compared with the EUR 1.2 billion loss the scandal-hit Dutch retailer recorded in 2002.
Company turnover was EUR 56.1 billion, a rise of 10.6 percent compared with 2002. Excluding exchange rates, turnover increased by 2.7 percent, news agency ANP reported.
Ahold is one of the last Dutch companies to release its yearly figures. Hit by accounting scandals last year to the tune of EUR 970 million, the retailer took extra time to ensure its figures were correct this year.
The results — which were pretty much in the middle of analyst expectations ranging from a net loss of EUR 251 million and a profit of EUR 218 million — were influenced by sluggish consumer spending, negative currency effects and one-off posts.
Ahold said the biggest negative influence on its 2003 results was the controversy surrounding its subsidiary US Foodservice, which was central to the account keeping scandal of last year.
Company chief Anders Moberg said Ahold had labelled 2003 a “lost year” but the yearly figures indicated that it was on the right track with its “Road to Recovery” programme, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
Moberg, 54, is following a strategy of cutting prices to regain market share. It aims to sell assets worth EUR 2.5 billion and return Ahold’s credit rating to investment-grade status by the end of 2005.
Ahold — which is still under investigation for overstating its profits — said its net debt was reduced last year by EUR 4.8 billion to EUR 7.5 billion. The company’s equity increased to EUR 4.9 billion from EUR 2.6 billion in 2002.
Chief financial officer Hannu Ryopponen said a loss for 2004 is “fairly likely”, but a full-year loss in 2005 is unlikely.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news