Royal Ahold, the international food provider, is once again on track to achieve record sales and earnings this year. 'We intend to double the 1999 size of our company expressed in Euro sales in 2002. This looks very doable indeed. Each of our 400,000 Ahold associates in 25 countries may justifiably take pride in their accomplishments this year and have every reason to look forward to a record sales and earnings performance.'

This was the thrust of a Christmas Address to associates delivered today by Ahold President & CEO Cees van der Hoeven. In festive mood, he noted the consistent autonomous sales growth of 7% per year achieved by Ahold companies and ran through the list of 14 acquisitions so far this year in the United States, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, with combined sales of approximately Euro 15 billion.

'The limiting factors to growth, both organic and through acquisitions, are very manageable. Central to this process, however, is our transfer of knowledge and best practice among key associates and the application of the guiding principles of our business. Our multi-channel strategy is to reach consumers through food retail for home consumption, through foodservice when eating out and through an e-commerce service linked to home delivery when ordering. This strategy is consistent with our desire to align the best aspects of each channel and add value. Although at Ahold the customer comes first and foremost, you -our associates- are our ambassadors in all we do. It is therefore gratifying to see how the Ahold family is turning many autonomous local activities into effective multi-local operations and generating substantial synergies within and among our food retail, foodservice and e-commerce channels. We are motivated, ambitious and well aware of the high expectations placed on us to deliver an excellent performance not only this year but also in the years ahead! Our goal is clear and consistent: to be the best and most successful food provider in the world!'