Dutch retailer Ahold said yesterday [Monday] that it had completed a joint venture with fellow supermarket operators La Fragua of Guatemala and CSU of Costa Rica.

The joint venture consolidates the retail business of the three companies in Central America and brings together a total of 253 food stores in five countries with annual sales of over US$1.3bn. Named the Central American Retail Holding Company (CARHCO) was announced in November, with each partner holding an equal stake.

CARHCO will concentrate initially on growing the business organically in the five markets in which it already operates – namely Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It will also work to develop its retail activities in other market in the region.