Ahold is to slash 440 HQ and logistic posts at its flagship supermarket Albert Heijn in Holland in the wake of "negative consumer sentiment" for the chain.

In October, AH was forced to cut prices by up to 30% on 1,000 of its key products in order to regain lost market share.

Ahold warned that operating profit at Albert Heijn would be negatively impacted in the fourth quarter by October’s price cuts. But it hoped to see higher volumes.

In Europe, Ahold said third quarter net sales were flat and had "significantly decreased" at Albert Heijn, but did not release figures. Ahold did confirm that in the first three quarters of 2003 sales at AH fell 2% compared to last year.