Full-year sales figures at Ahold were met with scepticism in the City after the world's third largest retailer unveiled lacklustre growth in core markets as well as the predictable trouble spots.
Like-for-like sales growth in US retail, which accounts for a large proportion of Ahold's revenue, was under 1%.
One analyst said: "The figures were in line with our low expectations,but the outlook in core markets such as US food retail remains very challenging."
Plans announced in November to weed out consistent underperformers in Ahold's stable were "not radical enough," he added.
"They need to exit whole regions, such as Asia and Latin America, not just non-core bits here and there.
"This won't raise the money to tackle their debts."
Total sales were up 9.2% to E72.7bn in 2002 ­ in line with expectations ­ but organic sales growth fell to 3.2% from 6.1%.
However, chief executive Cees van der Hoeven said organic sales growth had improved in all regions in the fourth quarter.

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