Ahold is under pressure to break-up the company after two leading shareholders called on the Dutch retailer to sell off its US businesses.

Centaurus Capital and Paulson & Co, which have a 6.4% share in the company, said: “We believe keeping Ahold's disparate retail and wholesale interests together diminishes shareholder value and limits the operating potential of the individual businesses.”

Last week Ahold reported flat second-quarter sales of E10.5bn, blaming competitive market conditions and rising energy costs.