Giant Food, a leading Ahold food store chain in the United States, today announced the launch of a new online shopping and delivery service in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and Baltimore. Giant Food is the leading supermarket chain in Maryland and Virginia with 176 stores and sales of approximately USD 4.5 billion. Together with Peapod, the prominent U.S. internet grocer in which Ahold has a majority stake, Giant Food will introduce online shopping and delivery service to its five million customers in the nation’s capital as of Tuesday November 7, the day of the U.S. presidential election. Ahold is the number 1 food provider along the eastern seaboard in the United States.

‘We picked November 7 as many people will vote that day. At the same time, there is now no reason to complain about lack of time for food shopping. People can now order their food needs on Giant’s website (www.giantfood.com) for next day delivery. While watching the election results on television, you can also order groceries on the internet. It is very convenient and Giant guarantees the same top quality for which we are known in our stores. The Peapod company, the best eGrocers in America, takes care of delivery’, said Barry Scher, a spokesman for Giant Food.

“Peapod by Giant”, the name of the service, expands Ahold’s online shopping and home delivery along the U.S. eastern seaboard. Peapod already has a successful home delivery service in the Boston metropolitan area, in close cooperation with Ahold’s supermarket chain Stop & Shop. Stop & Shop recently expanded services to southern Connecticut communities.

In other parts of the world as well, Ahold eCommerce services in combination with home delivery are developing swiftly to meet rapidly increasing consumer demand. Ahold’s supermarket chain Albert Heijn in The Netherlands now offers eCommerce services in more than 35 cities. Ahold’s Disco supermarket chain in Buenos Aires, Argentina, also has years of experience in this field. Worldwide Ahold internet sales currently amount to about Euro 250 million and are expected to rise to approximately Euro 1 billion by 2002.

Besides the USA, Ahold internet operations linked to home delivery are developing rapidly in The Netherlands, Argentina, Scandinavia and Thailand. Ahold is a highly successful food provider in 24 countries with 8000 stores and various food service operations to capture the ‘out-of-home’ markets. Ahold annualized sales, including pending acquisitions, amount to approximately USD 60 billion. The company has 30 million weekly customers worldwide and provides employment to over 450,000 people. In each case, the customer pays a home delivery charge and the assortment is more limited than in the stores.