Outlook for 2002 of Laurus NV

In the first four periods (of 4 weeks) of the current year the total sales of the Dutch formats (Konmar, Super De Boer and Edah) decreased slightly with 2%, partly due to the sale of a number of stores (52). On a like-for-like basis sales grew with almost 3%.

Super De BoerÂ's sales growth on a like-for-like basis was at just over 10% better than the 6.5% recorded by the market as a whole over the same period. Edah (1% sales growth) and especially Konmar (5% sales decrease) fell short of the market average.

Sales in Spain and Belgium decreased compared with 2001, due to the closure of a number of stores (mainly in Spain). The sales decrease on a like-for-like basis was in Spain 11% and in Belgium 3%.

The consolidated sales of Laurus NV was 1,696 million euro (2001: 1,859 million euro) and therefore fell short with 9% compared with last year. If the divested business units (amongst others Spar) are not taken into consideration the consolidated sales decreased with over 6%.

The combined operating income for all the Dutch operations was positive in the first four periods of 2002, due mainly to Super De Boer and Edah. KonmarÂ's operating income remained negative. The operating income for Laurus as a whole was a break-even result, despite the negative results in Spain and Belgium.

Reflecting the relatively high financing charges, the consolidated net income was negative. The speed of recovery of the Dutch supermarket formats will depend on the progress made with commercial and operational improvements in such areas as format management, cost control, productivity, leakage reduction and information systems.

In Spain and Belgium, except for current profitability improvement programs, problems are being resolved structurally with high priority. Since many of these measures will involve additional cost and capital expenditure in the initial stages, for which the funds are not at present available, a start cannot be made until the recapitalisation exercise has been completed.

We envisage a further decrease in staffing levels in the current year. Until the financial position has been strengthened, only essential capital expenditure will be undertaken.

(source: Laurus)

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