Margins Down at Ahold USA Chains

AMSTERDAM -- Ahold here yesterday said it took a $118 million charge in the fourth quarter for the sale or closure of its 46 Tops stores in northeastern Ohio.

AMSTERDAM -- Ahold here yesterday said it took a $118 million charge in the fourth quarter for the sale or closure of its 46 Tops stores in northeastern Ohio. As a result, the company‘s Giant-Carlisle-Tops division posted an operating loss of $63 million in the period. For the year, the division had operating profit of $62 million, down $28 million from a year ago. The Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover division also saw declines in operating margins, which were impacted by the chains‘ new EDLP initiative, the company said. Fourth-quarter operating profit in the division was $162 million, down $18 million from year-ago levels. For the full year, operating profits totaled $839 million, down $15 million from a year ago. Ahold reported sales results on Feb. 1. Overall, Ahold posted fourth-quarter net income of $309.8 million, down 3% from year-ago levels but up 3% at constant exchange rates. The company reported net income of $1.15 billion for the year, vs. $181.4 million in 2005, using average exchange rates. Separately, Ahold said Giant-Landover plans to open its largest prototype yet next Friday in Fredericksburg, Va. The new, 75,000-square-foot store will be the largest in the chain and the seventh to open featuring the newest format, which emphasizes prepared foods and perishables.