Blog: Dean BestA hectic first month for Ahold's new boss

Dean Best | 14 December 2007

It’s been an interesting first month in charge for Ahold CEO John Rishton.

The world’s seventh-largest retailer by sales has ploughed on with its revamp in the US with the sale of its Tops stores. The overhaul is designed to boost sales and margins of Ahold’s US business and its “value improvement programme” seems to be ticking over nicely.

Nevertheless, the changes haven’t stopped speculation about Ahold’s future with analysts predicting a merger between the Dutch giant and Belgian counterpart Delhaize.

Meanwhile, over in Scandinavia, Ahold’s retail venture has been rocked by a food safety scandal. The supermarket chain ICA has pledged to act after some stores in Sweden were found to be relabelling unsold meat and changing sell-by dates on the packages.

So, as we head into Christmas, perhaps Rishton will be warmed by figures from Ahold’s domestic market that claim festive sales are up 13% on last year.

Ahold’s Albert Heijn chain is the largest grocer in the Netherlands and is best-placed to benefit from a bumper Christmas after a robust last few months.

Fierce price wars have been a characteristic of the Dutch retail market in recent years; Rishton will no doubt be cheered that shoppers are looking for more premium items – for Christmas at least.


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