AMSTERDAM — Ahold here said last week it would accelerate the rollout of its Value Improvement Program at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, adding frozen foods to its list of categories that will undergo a review and price reduction by the end of the year. In a conference call discussing third-quarter earnings, the company said the VIP initiative, launched last September in the produce department and rolled out across nine other categories since then, has created a better price perception among consumers, although it is still pressuring margins. “Our overall store price perception is up at both Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, not just in produce,” said Larry Benjamin, chief operating officer, Ahold USA. Operating income at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover was $150 million in the third quarter, down about 9% from year-ago levels; year-to-date operating income slid 20%, to $539 million. At Giant-Carlisle, operating income was up about 15%, to $38 million in the quarter, and up about 13.5%, to $151 million through three quarters.
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