Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn will not leave Belgium, but rather double its number of stores. After the merger with Belgian chain Delhaize there was speculation that owner Ahold Delhaize would choose between its two chains, but instead they will both expand heavily in Belgium.
Led by Delhaize
The merger group confirms in a press release that it has come to the conclusion that both retail brands are very complementary: Delhaize customers appreciate the shopping experience and quality, Albert Heijn attracts more price-sensitive shoppers. With the two formulas together, Ahold Delhaize is "uniquely positioned to win the hearts of the Belgian customer, both in-store and online. We are on the right track to drive growth with two strong supermarket brands, each with its own distinctive and loyal customer base", says Wouter Kolk, CEO Ahold Delhaize Europe and Indonesia.
Both chains will continue to open stores in the coming years: Albert Heijn will add thirty to fifty stores and double its network, while Delhaize will add 100 supermarkets to its already impressive empire. The expansion teams will be merged into one team led by Delhaize Belgium. For each location, that team decides which concept is most suitable.
Bol.com's Belgian battle
Another brand in the rise is web shop bol.com, which will strengthen its position in Belgium by adding pick-up points in Delhaize supermarkets - starting in Antwerp, then spreading out across the country.
With this communication, the retailer creates clarity about the future. Delhaize will remain the leading brand in Belgium, reassuring its affiliated retailers. For the competitors on the Belgian market however, the message is perhaps less good news: they will have to compete with a large, united organisation that covers the market from high-end to price-breaking.