AHOLD REPORTS DECLINE IN 3Q SALES

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here last week said competitive pressures and the ongoing integration of its Stop & Shop and Giant of Landover, Md., chains drove down identical-store sales at those banners in the third quarter.R Total sales in the U.S. Retail division slid 1.3% in the period, to $6.09 billion, vs. the year-ago quarter. Through three quarters sales fell 0.7%, to $20.54 billion, from

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here last week said competitive pressures and the ongoing integration of its Stop & Shop and Giant of Landover, Md., chains drove down identical-store sales at those banners in the third quarter.

R> Total sales in the U.S. Retail division slid 1.3% in the period, to $6.09 billion, vs. the year-ago quarter. Through three quarters sales fell 0.7%, to $20.54 billion, from $20.69 billion in the year-ago span.

Sales at the combined Bi-Lo and Bruno's division, which Ahold said it is negotiating to sell, fell 12.8% in the quarter, to $1.07 billion, and 12.7% through the first three quarters, to $3.62 billion. It attributed the decline in part to store closures.

At Giant of Landover, sales slid 4.5% for the period, to $1.16 billion, and 1.2% year-to-date, to $4.03 billion. Stop & Shop posted quarterly sales gains of 2.3%, to $2.36 billion, and year-to-date sales gains of 2.5%, to $7.86 billion.

Sales at the Giant of Carlisle-Tops division were up 4.5% for the quarter, to $1.46 billion, and 4.3% for the year, to $4.87 billion.

Ahold said it completed its systems integration at Giant of Landover and Stop & Shop during the quarter, but the integration process "negatively impacted net sales at Giant-Landover, particularly in the area of supply chain."

The company said its Peapod online division had "strong growth," which it attributed to expansion in the Giant-Landover and Stop & Shop markets.