Dutch retailer Ahold announced it will be integrating operations in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to create a new organisation, Ahold Central Europe (ACE).

This organisation, operating out of a central support office in Prague, Czech Republic, will combine back-office functions and management of Ahold's Polish, Czech and Slovak businesses, while maintaining localised operations in the three countries.

Jacquot Boelen, previously CEO Ahold Polska, has been appointed chief executive officer of ACE.

Through ACE, the three countries will merge such functions as sourcing, human resource development, marketing and formats, administration and IS&T to better utilise economies of scale and shared knowledge in the region. The overall organisation and central support office will be managed by one common CEO, Jacquot Boelen.

Day-to-day operations for the store chains and distribution centres will remain localised through separate country organisations and support offices, each managed by a chief operating officer who will report directly to Boelen. COOs will have full responsibility for operations (financial results and market position) at Albert and Hypernova formats in their countries.

Boelen joined Ahold Polska in January of 2001 as president and CEO. He has overseen much progress by Ahold in the Polish market, including the further expansion of Hypernova hypermarkets and the rebranding of the company's supermarkets to Albert.

Peter Ruzicka, current CEO of Ahold Czech Republic, has elected to return to his home country Norway to pursue other opportunities and will hand over responsibilities to Boelen as of 1 January 2003. Ruzicka led the company to becoming the market leader in food in the Czech Republic and has contributed greatly to the development of the new centralised organisation.

ACE will manage over 400 Albert supermarkets and Hypernova hypermarkets in Central Europe with combined 2001 sales of approximately €1.3bn (US$1.28bn). The integration will begin on 1 January 2003 and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.