Ahold yesterday announced that its Dutch supermarket subsidiary Albert Heijn and the Esso petroleum company have signed an agreement to open Albert Heijn convenience stores known as AH To Go at a number of Esso gasoline stations in The Netherlands.

This concept is fully in line with the rapid increase in customer demand for convenience stores at gas stations where fresh food and drink can be bought for on-site consumption or takeaway. The stores will be located at Esso stations along Dutch motorways as well as in local communities. The first store will open early next year and it is the intention to open 10 AH To Go stores in the course of 2002.

Ahold is developing considerable experience in the gasoline station and convenience store business around its global network. The company currently operates over 1,700 gas stations with convenience stores in the United States, Scandinavia, the Czech Republic and Thailand. It is expected that Ahold will expand these activities into other trade areas.

Many Ahold companies successfully offer a mix of fresh grocery items for same-day consumption and frozen or chilled food to cater for top-up shopping and last-minute and impulse purchases. Research shows that customers appreciate the convenience of fresh quality food from gas station forecourts, products that Albert Heijn will now be offering through AH To Go.

Ahold is a multi-local food retail and foodservice company with annualized sales of approximately Euro 65 billion and serving 35 million customers in 25 countries every week.