Dutch retail giant Ahold is planning to open its first store in Belgium in March.

The retailer said today (13 January) that it would open a franchise store under its flagship Albert Heijn banner in the town of Brasschaat. 

The opening of the Albert Heijn franchise will mark the end of months of speculation over when and how Ahold would enter Belgium.

A spokesman for Ahold told just-food said the franchise route would enable the retailer to “expand quickly” in Belgium. Of Ahold’s 850 Albert Heijn stores in the Netherlands, some 20-25% are run as franchises.

He refused to be drawn on how many stores Ahold planned to open in Belgium this year but said the company “definitely hopes and plans” to expand its business in the country this year.