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Ahold looks to grow U.S. biz

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AMSTERDAM — Dutch-Belgian supermarket group Ahold Delhaize, the owner of Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant Food Stores and Hannaford, is looking for acquisitions in the United States, its chief executive announced in a Dutch newspaper report.

The comments in Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad signal a potential strategy shift for Ahold under chief executive officer Frans Muller, who took on the top job in July after overseeing the company’s U.S. business.

“We have a strong market share in regions where we are active. That gives us a good starting point to join in the acquisition game,” Muller said in the Financieele Dagblad report.

There were no details about possible retail targets or how much the company might spend in the report. The supermarket giant’s current strategy is to bolster its U.S. online business, where sales grew by 12% in the third ­quarter.

Ahold Delhaize has commented in the past that it mainly planned to grow organically in the U.S., where it generates two-thirds of its sales and operates Peapod, the leading online grocery delivery business.

The newspaper report said that the U.S. market is tough for food retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, which are all competing for online grocery customers.

Ahold Delhaize added that it expects to double its online sales to around $8 billion by 2021. As part of that strategy it will introduce small, automated warehouses at U.S. stores to speed up delivery times and reduce costs.


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