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Ahold’s U.S. sales up slightly as global sales fall

BY Alaric DeArment

ZAANDAM, Netherlands — Royal Ahold had sales of $9.96 billion in third quarter 2013, compared with $10.2 billion during the same period last year, the Dutch supermarket operator said Thursday.

The results announced Thursday marked a 3.1% decrease in sales, though sales increased by 0.6% when measured by percentage change in constant exchange rates. Sales of the retailing company’s U.S. division were $5.9 billion, a 0.2% increase over third quarter 2012, while same-store sales increased by 0.1%, or 0.6% when excluding the effect of changing gas prices. The U.S. division includes the Stop & Shop, Giant Food of Landover, Md., and Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Pa., supermarket chains and the online grocer Peapod.

Sales in the Netherlands increased by 1.4%, while sales elsewhere in Europe were down by 4%. Ahold CEO Dick Boer cited weak consumer sentiment in the Netherlands as a factor in the company’s lackluster European sales.

"In the United States, we continue to operate in a very competitive environment with low inflation," Boer said. "With limited sales growth, we gained market share in the supermarket segment and maintained our share in the all-outlet market. We were able to maintain a solid underlying operating margin, supported by continuous cost-savings."

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Ahold sells off Slovakian division

BY Alaric DeArment

ZAANDAM, Netherlands — Dutch supermarket operator Royal Ahold will sell its Slovakian business to Slovakia-based retailer Condorum, Ahold said Thursday.

Ahold – whose U.S. business includes the Stop & Shop, Giant-Landover and Giant-Carlisle supermarket chains and the Peapod online grocery service – said exiting the Slovakian market would allow it to focus on improving its business in the Czech Republic. Ahold Slovakia operates 24 stores, with sales of $214 million last year, which the company described as a "limited market position"; the company operates 283 Albert stores in the Czech Republic, with $2.4 billion in sales last year.

Condorum operates more than 90 retail stores in Slovakia under the Terno and Moja Samoska banners, with $171 million in sales last year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

 

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Kmart, Sears offer early online holiday shopping for Shop Your Way members

BY Alaric DeArment

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears and Kmart are offering an online pre-sale to members of the Shop Your Way loyalty card program, parent company Sears Holdings said.

The retailers said they would offer more than 1,000 doorbusters as part of the pre-sale on Nov. 22 at Sears.com and on Nov. 24 at Kmart.com.

"Shop Your Way members always get more, and giving early access to Black Friday doorbusters is the ultimate shopping perk," Sears Holdings EVP and president for marketing, online and financial services Imran Jooma said. "Sears and Kmart also offer integrated retail conveniences like free store pick-up, Anywhere, Anyone Pick-Up and online layaway options to help you manage your holiday budget."

While many mass merchandise retailers are planning to start Black Friday shopping early, mostly on Thanksgiving evening, many Kmart customers strongly criticized the retailer last week due to its decision to open stores at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Kmart’s rent-to-own program has also come under criticism. According to published reports, it charges the equivalent of 100% interest or more, resulting in a $300 TV costing $415, though the retailer has defended it by saying it helps low-income consumers who may not qualify for credit, and its costs are lower than competitors’.

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