Dutch retailing giant Ahold on Thursday posted an almost three-fold jump in net profit for 2013 on the back of a multi-billion-euro sale of its stake in Scandinavian distribution company ICA.
The Amsterdam-based group clocked 2.53 billion euros ($3.4 billion) dollars in profit last year of which 1.75 billion euros came from the sale of a 60-percent majority interest in ICA to Hakon Invest.
In 2012, profits totalled 915 million euros.
Turnover fell by 0.2 percent to 32.6 billion euros while operating income also dropped by 7.3 percent.
Ahold announced a year ago that it was selling its 60-percent interest in ICA to Stockholm-based Hakon Invest, now known as ICA Gruppen, which already owned the other 40 percent.
The group's dividend rose by 7.0 percent to 0.47 euros per share.
Group chief executive Dick Boer said "while we expect economic conditions to gradually improve, we remain cautious in our outlook for the food retail sector in 2014."
In the Netherlands, where Ahold dominates the small and medium retail market through its Albert Heijn stores, it recorded a slight increase in sales in the fourth quarter, thanks mainly to a growth in its online section.
"Our ongoing focus on expanding our online business is expected to result in strong sales growth," Boer added.
Ahold has slightly more than 3,000 stores in North America and in Europe, and employs 225,000 people.