For the first time, an existing Delhaize supermarket is turned into one of its sister chain Albert Heijn. The beginning of a trend, or a solitary case? The latter, the Belgian retailer says decidedly.
“No new transitions”
Early 2022 will mark a watershed moment within Ahold Delhaize: a Delhaize supermarket in Tongeren will be converted into an Albert Heijn. It is a very sensitive move after the "merger between equals" in 2016, when analysts predicted a number of Delhaize stores would be turned into Albert Heijn, which was then a relative newcomer on the Belgian market.
However, this is not a trend but rather an isolated case, spokesperson Roel Dekelver emphasises in an interview with RetailDetail: this is a decision made by an independent franchiser, the Vandecaetsbeek family, who think that an Albert Heijn is more suited for the needs of that specific location and public. "This is a specific solution for this store manager, based upon local market circumstances." Dekelver says that the retail group is not evaluating its entire store network to see if more 'red' stores can be switched to the 'blue' formula: "There are no new transitions in the pipeline."
The store renovation also does not spell the end for the relationship between Delhaize and the Vandecaetsbeek family, who has been connected to the food retailer for twenty years. Even after the transformation of the Tongeren store is finished, the family will remain the managers of three Delhaize supermarkets in the area around Tongeren.