Supermarket giant Ahold booked weaker than expected earnings in the first quarter of 2012 and repeated this will be a tough year as consumer spending declines.
Net income was down 3.2% at €232m, while sales rose almost 2% to €9.7bn at constant exchange rates.
‘We expect 2012 to be another challenging year for the food retail industry, with intense competitive activity and consumer spending under pressure due to economic uncertainty, particularly in Europe,’ chief executive Dick Boer said in a statement.
‘However, we saw underlying trends improving slightly as the quarter developed and are encouraged by the sales trend in the second quarter, albeit against a background of weak market conditions,’ the statement said.
In the Netherlands, where Ahold is active with Albert Heijn supermarkets, the Etos chemists’ chain, drinks group Gall&Gall and online supermarket Albert.nl, sales rose 1.2% to €3.3bn.