Greek supermarket chain Alfa-Beta Vassilopoulos, majority-owned by Belgium’s Delhaize said last week its first-quarter profit fell 72 percent year-on-year as consumption slowed during the economic downturn.

Net profit for the group, Greece’s second-largest supermarket chain, fell to 2.1 million euros in the first quarter from 7.6 million euros in the same period last year.

Sales grew 10.9 percent to 347 million euros as the chain expanded and upgraded its network, but the growth slowed compared with last year, AB Vassilopoulos said.

“The adverse economic environment and a slowdown in consumption had a negative impact on first quarter sales,” it said in a statement.

Food retailers around the world are taking a hit due to a consumption slowdown.

AB Vassilopoulos, with a current network of about 200 stores, said it plans to add 16 new stores to its chain in 2009.

The company said it expects profitability this year to be at the same level as in 2008, when it reported net profit of 32.7 million euros.