The outgoing CEO of Ahold described the appointment of his replacement Dick Boer as a “carefully planned succession” as he assuaged analyst concerns over the Dutch retailer’s performance during the transition.

“While the leadership will change, the strategy will not. Dick has been heavily involved in Ahold’s strategy and this has been a carefully planned succession,” John Rishton said on an analyst call today (30 September).

The company announced today that Rishton would be leaving the company in March to become CEO of Rolls-Royce. Dick Boer, the current chief operating officer of Ahold Europe, is to replace him.

Additionally, the company announced that Carl Schlicker, currently CEO of Ahold USA Retail, has been appointed as COO of Ahold USA. He will take on the role when Larry Benjamin retires early next year.

Rishton signalled that there would be further changes in the coming months, as the new COOs – Sander van der Laan as COO of its Europe operations and Carl Schlicker for its US operations – would focus on their divisions. A now three-person executive board – comprising Boer, CFO Kimberly Ross and chief corporate governance counsel Lodewijk Hijmans van den Bergh – would be responsible for strategy and growth.

When asked if the smaller executive board would mean that there would be less focus on mergers and acquisitions, Rishton said: “Clearly with the changes we’ve announced today, questions remain around how we strengthen our focus on growth. We need to do some more work on how we focus on that. We will be reflecting on further changes and they will be announced in the coming months.”

The appointment of Schlicker as the COO of Ahold USA seems to signal the end of the retailer’s restructuring efforts in the US.

“Larry has been focused on the growth agenda and organisational change in the US. As the organisational transfers, the time is right for Larry to retire,” Rishton said. “As we’ve gotten through that process, it’s right to have a retailer in charge of the business.”

RBS analyst Justin Scarborough praised the appointment of Boer as the new CEO of Ahold, describing the retailer as “lucky” to have such an operator that is able to step up to the plate.

“We think that Dick Boer is a good appointment given that he has been in charge of what we believe is arguably one of the strongest food retailers over the past 5 years – Albert Heijn. Over the past five years sales and EBIT CAGR have been 9% and 17% respectively and operating margins around 7% are just one measure of its success,” he said.

Shares in the retailer had fallen 1.8% to EUR9.86 a share at 11:39 CEST.