Supermarket group Ahold boosts profit

Supermarket group Ahold, which operates the Albert Heijn chain, said on Monday it had booked net profit of €285m in the final three months of 2008, better than analysts had expected and a 9% increase on the €253m booked in the 2007 final quarter.

Over 2008 as a whole, Ahold booked net profit of €1.1bn, some 63% lower than 2007. But that figure includes the results of units, such as Schuitema, which have since been sold. Operating profit reached €1.2bn, up 12% on 2007.
Ahold declined to make a forecast for 2009, but CEO John Rishton said in a statement that despite the economic downturn, customer spending patterns had not changed so far.
Ahold books more than half of its sales in the US, where it has cut prices and increased the volume of own brand products on its supermarket shelves.
Ahold has increased its dividend 12% to 18 cents a share.

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