Attempting to recover from a major accounting scandal, Netherlands food retailer Ahold lost 405 million euros (US $488 million) in the first quarter of 2004, compared with net income of 84 million euros (US $101 million) in the year-ago period. Net sales dropped 11.3% from a year ago to 15.4 billion euros (US $18.6 billion).
Net sales at the Ahold's Columbia MD-based US Foodservice rose 4.6% to $5.5 billion. The division reported an operating loss of 58 million euros (US $70 million), versus a loss of 73 million euros (US $88 million) a year earlier. Ravaged by an $850 million accounting scandal in 2003, US Foodservice has installed a new management team. The division's food retail operations include Stop & Shop, Giant-Landover, Giant-Carlisle, Tops, and Peapod.
Since the end of 2003, Ahold has reduced its net debt by 422 million euros (US $509 million), mostly due to sell-offs and lower capital expenses. The firm's net debt is now 7.1 billion euros (US $8.6 billion).