Retail giant Ahold has remained silent on reports it is considering expanding its Dutch Albert Heijn chain to Belgium and Germany.

The Dutch retailer yesterday (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.

Ahold will 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.

The retailer also said it is looking at options or growth opportunities in Europe and the US, focusing first on the adjacent market areas in both continents.

However, a spokesperson for the retailer told just-food today that it has not been that specific about where it will expand to.

"It's a bit of speculation on behalf of the media on the back of our announcement," he said. "We have not been that specific. All we've said is that we're keen to expand in new and existing markets and we've always said that we would look first at the adjacent market areas to the areas that we are present already."

He insisted: "If you look at the Netherlands and you add it all up, it's quite logical to come to a conclusion of which those could be as there's only two neighbouring countries. But that's all been done by the journalists and not confirmed by us and we're not going to confirm it now.

"Yes, we want to expand, we're keen to grow into existing markets but also in new markets and we can do that in various ways by acquisitions or exporting our retail brands in the US and Europe, not just the Netherlands but to other markets that we're in."

Ahold also refused to comment on an analyst report that it might be a target for a takeover by Tesco.

Analysts at ING this week suggested Ahold might be a target for Tesco, the UK retailer, given its relatively low valuation. They stressed the idea was their own rather than based on indications from either company but said the move would be logical as it would allow Tesco to expand in the US.

"Ahold could be viewed as a one-off opportunity to acquire an undervalued asset at a low point in the US consumer cycle," ING wrote.