Ahold Sees Sales Gains at Converted Ukrop's

Ahold said sales have improved at the Ukrop's stores it acquired, since converting them to the Martin's banner.

AMSTERDAM — Ahold [2] here said sales have improved at the Ukrop's stores it acquired earlier this year, since converting them to the Martin's banner.

In a conference call with analysts Thursday discussing results for Ahold's first fiscal quarter, John Rishton, Ahold's chief executive officer, said the company has been "very pleased with the improvement in sales" since it has converted the 25 stores, a process that was completed May 17. The company added beer and wine and opened the doors on Sundays, a reversal of the no-alcohol, closed-on-Sundays policy that the stores had adhered to under the ownership of the Ukrop's family.

"What is clear is that customers are really appreciating it," said Rishton.

The stores contributed $99 million to Ahold's first-quarter sales. The company also incurred a charge of $12 million related to the conversion of the stores to the Martin's banner, which is operated by Ahold's Giant of Carlisle, Pa., division.

Overall Ahold said sales in the U.S. were up 4.2% in the quarter, to $7.1 billion, and identical-store sales, excluding gasoline, were down 0.1%, compared twith year-ago levels. Operating income was down about 5.7%, to $295 million, or 4.2% of sales.

Ahold operates Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover in the U.S. in addition to Giant of Carlisle.

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