Royal Ahold, the international food provider, today announced its wholly-owned Dutch foodservice subsidiary Deli XL has acquired the prominent Belgian foodservice company Mea-De Wilde-De Loore from the Compass Group plc, the international contract caterers headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Mea-De Wilde-De Loore, based in Charleroi, is market leader in Belgium with sales of approximately Euro 100 million. The acquisition boosts Deli XL sales to more than Euro 900 million. The acquisition is fully in line with the multi-channel Ahold strategy of serving customers through food retail, foodservice and e-commerce activities.

Ahold swiftly gaining prominence in foodservice sector
Earlier this year, Ahold acquired U.S. Foodservice, a nationwide food distributor throughout the United States with sales of approximately USD 8 billion. In addition, Ahold also announced its intention to acquire Sara Lee's foodservice company PYA/Monarch, with sales of approximately USD 3 billion. The ICA-Ahold joint venture in Scandinavia also operates foodservice activities. The acquisition announced today reinforces Ahold's robust position in this rapidly-growing sector.


Strengthening European food retail position
At the same time, Ahold is rapidly strengthening its European food retail position. Following its acquisition of a 50% stake in the Scandinavian ICA Group, with sales of Euro 8 billion, Ahold recently announced the planned acquisition of Spanish food retailer Superdiplo with sales of Euro 1.3 billion. Ahold's 73% Dutch subsidiary Schuitema also recently finalized its acquisition of the A&P stores located in The Netherlands.


Mea-De Wilde-De Loore to continue under Deli XL name in Belgium
The acquisition of Mea-De Wilde-De Loore is Deli XL's first step outside The Netherlands.
The profitable Belgian company will continue under the name Deli XL. The company is known as service oriented and innovative in the fragmented Belgian foodservice market, currently worth about Euro 4.5 billion. The acquisition offers Deli XL further attractive growth opportunities in the Belgian market.

Remarks by Jan Andreae, Ahold Corporate Executive Board member
'Mea-De Wilde-De Loore is a seamless fit with the activities of our successful subsidiary Deli XL', said Jan Andreae, member of the Ahold Corporate Executive Board responsible for European operations. 'The economies of scale we can leverage will be felt immediately in the procurement process, but rapid progress is also expected in such areas as IT, product development, new services and knowledge transfer. This is just as important for the customer as for us. We're also pleased to be active in a country with a prominent culinary tradition which we expect to impact positively on our foodservice and store operations in The Netherlands.'

Synergy benefits
Andreae saw the U.S. and The Netherlands benefiting most in terms of synergies from the acquisition. 'We see how U.S. Foodservice and our store chain Giant-Landover in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area are working together to customer benefit, and we expect in time our European customers to benefit too. Tried and tested Albert Heijn products in The Netherlands are also sold in bulk by Deli XL. Our Perla coffee is a good example in this respect. On the other hand, Deli XL offers Albert Heijn's home delivery or convenience store formats to institutional customers. These come in very useful in a large hospital or nursing home. This way, we use each other's strengths and brand names to offer customers unique concepts not available elsewhere.'

Serving customers at home or when eating out
'This acquisition is fully in line with our multi-channel strategy that offers food retail, foodservice and e-commerce activities under one roof', Andreae continued. 'We can be of service to customers at their every eating occasion, be it at home or when they're eating out. Under the auspices of Frits Visser, President & CEO of Deli XL, the professional management team at Mea-De Wilde-De Loore will contribute immediately to the company's further growth and to its Belgian activities. Various growth strategies are currently being mapped out and will be implemented in the months ahead.'

Remarks by Alain Dupuis, Executive Director Compass
'When we acquired the French contract foodservice company SHRM three years ago, we also became owner of Mea-De Wilde-De Loore,' said Alain Dupuis, Executive Director of Compass. 'We successfully developed and optimized the company and we have now reached the stage that it is better for Mea-De Wilde-De Loore to become part of a larger group like Ahold to attain its full potential. We thank the Mea-De Wilde-De Loore management and staff and wish them well. We will continue our relationship with them as our main purveyor in Belgium.'


Mea-De Wilde and Deli XL activities
Mea-De Wilde supplies a range of about 6,000 products, including fresh and frozen items, to institutional customers such as company restaurants, hospitals and nursing homes, among others. In addition, Mea-De Wilde serves prominent contract caterers and restaurant chains. Deli XL offers a complete range of food and drink to approximately 30,000 Dutch customers in the institutional, catering and hospitality sectors.