Ahold down
Dutch retailer Ahold's full-year 2005 operating profit fell 73% to E248m on sales down 0.3% to E44.5bn. The group said it was lowering its forecasted retail operating margin from 5% to 4-4.5% due to tougher than expected competition and cost pressures.

Parmalat up
Troubled Italian dairy giant Parmalat's pre-tax profit for the first two months of 2006 rose 18% to E45m on sales up 9% to E613m. Parmalat relisted on the Italian stock exchange in October following an accounting scandal.

Wal-Mart lab
US retail giant Wal-Mart has opened a new store in New Plano, Texas, which is designed to be a laboratory for exploring merchandise, store layout and customer service strategies. John Fleming, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Wal-Mart, said: "This store will function as an active laboratory for testing a range of new ideas and merchandise in a fully operational setting."

Joint stake
Icelandic fresh prepared foods group Bakkavor Group and Icelandic-Norwegian bank Glitnir have acquired a 40% stake in Chinese salad manufacturer Creative Foods. As part of the deal, Bakkavor and Glitnir have set up a new company, Bakkavor China, to focus on investment opportunities.

Beer boost
Brewer SABMiller is expecting beer sales in China to grow by double-digit percentages in the next few years. Andre Parker, MD for SABMiller Africa and Asia, told Reuters: "Our expectation of the Chinese beer market is that it will continue to grow between 5% and 8% per annum over the next five to ten years."

Possible sale
Analysts have priced Carrefour's South Korean operations at $1.5bn if the French retailer decides to sell its stores in the country. Reports suggest that Tesco and Wal-Mart could both be interested in snapping them up.