Retail giant Ahold has insisted that the reorganisation of its US and European operations are being made to simplify and streamline its business.

Ahold this morning (5 November) announced plans to reorganise its US and European operations in a bid to position itself to make acquisitions in new and existing markets.

The company is to set up four new US divisions from the two it operates currently.

Stop&Shop/Giant-Carlisle and Giant Landover will be separated into Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop Metro New York, Giant-Landover and Giant-Carlisle.

A spokesperson for the Dutch retailer told just-food today that what the company is doing is separating core support functions from the store operations.

"In the US we currently have two operating companies and both operating companies have their own support function. In future that will be one support organisation so we will have one support organisation for four divisions in the US and those divisions are Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop Metro New York, Giant-Landover and Giant-Carlisle."

The spokesperson added: "We believe it to be a simplification, mostly because we are simplifying support functions into one group who will then service all retail brands."

The new structure, chief executive John Rishton said, will also allow Dick Boer, COO for Ahold Europe, and Lawrence Benjamin, COO for Ahold USA, to devote more time to growth opportunities in "existing and new markets".

The spokesperson declined to comment on specifics but said the company would be looking at growth opportunities in Europe and the US, the continents it currently operates in.

"We're looking at options or growth opportunities in Europe and the US, and we will look first at the adjacent market areas in both continents. I'm not saying it's always going to be depending on vicinity, that's not the only criteria. But it will definitely help to evaluate or assess our criteria for acquisitions, which are fairly strict."

He added: "It's very important that we can integrate acquisitions quite easily within the organisation. And any acquisition that we do will have to fit into the organisation structure that we have announced today, ie, they will be serviced by the same support group in Europe or in the US, and they will focus on the store operations in their specific market area."