SALES SLIDE AT AHOLD'S TOPS, GIANT-LANDOVER

ZANDAAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here reported overall sales increased by 0.7% during its fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 9, but that its laggard U.S. banners, Giant of Landover and particularly Tops Markets, suffered steep sales declines. .8% at Tops. At Giant of Landover, identical-store sales fell 2.4% and comps decreased by 1.6% during the quarter, reflecting higher average tickets but decreases

ZANDAAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here reported overall sales increased by 0.7% during its fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 9, but that its laggard U.S. banners, Giant of Landover and particularly Tops Markets, suffered steep sales declines.

.8% at Tops. At Giant of Landover, identical-store sales fell 2.4% and comps decreased by 1.6% during the quarter, reflecting higher average tickets but decreases in store traffic, Ahold said.

The sales picture was slightly better at Giant of Carlisle and Stop & Shop, which are Tops and Giant-Landover's respective sister chains. Carlisle drove identical-store increases of 4.2% and comps of 6.2%, attributable to consistent growth in net sales per transaction and effective loyalty and pricing programs, Ahold said. At Stop & Shop, identical sales fell by 0.3%, (1.2% excluding fuel) due to reduced store traffic.

Overall, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover combined for sales of $3.6 billion, a 2.6% gain from last year's third quarter. Combined sales of $1.3 billion at Giant-Carlisle/Tops fell by 2.5%.

Including U.S. Food service and European operations, Ahold reported total sales of $10.2 billion, up 0.7% from the same period last year.