Embattled Dutch retailer Ahold has finally published its long-awaited audited results for 2002, revealing the full effect of the widespread accounting fraud unearthed earlier this year.
The company said that net losses for 2002 were €1.2 billion, but would be considerably higher under US GAAP accounting standards as a result of a goodwill impairment of €3.2 billion, most of which relates to the US Foodservice unit at the heart of the accounting fraud.
Sales for 2002 were €62.6 billion, around €10 billion lower than Ahold had originally estimated when it reported unaudited figures in January, just before the accounting scandal was uncovered. Nonetheless, this was still an improvement on the previous year's figures (which have also been restated in light of the fraud), mainly as a result of acquisitions.
Restated sales for 2001 were €54.2 billion, some €12.4 billion lower than originally reported.
Net profits for 2001 were €750 million when restated to account for the overstatement of income at US Foodservice, some €363 million less than had originally been stated.
Operating profit shrank compared to the previous year as well, reaching €239 million in 2002 compared to restated 2001 figures of €1.9 billion, a decrease of 87.5 per cent.
New Ahold CEO Anders Moberg tried to put a positive spin on the results: "The underlying performance of our operating companies in the aggregate was good in a year of increased competition and a weak economy. We have some very solid operations and strong brands. However, in many ways, it's been a lost year, difficult and negative. With 2002 now behind us, it's time to move forward and rebuild value for our customers and our shareholders," he said.
Moberg has still not set out exactly how he hopes to turn around the Ahold business now that the line has been drawn under 2002 - shareholders and analysts alike will have to wait until mid-October for that - but the company is proceeding with its strategic withdrawal from a number of markets, notably in Latin America.