2019 Retail Pacesetters: Ahold Delhaize successfully stays the course

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2019 Retail Pacesetters: Ahold Delhaize successfully stays the course

By Carol Radice - 05/07/2019
With 2,000 stores and 23 distribution centers, Ahold Delhaize has shaped itself into a formidable competitor.

Operating a wide range of formats from convenience stores and supermarkets to hypermarkets, its retail banners in the United States include Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion, Giant Martins and Peapod, giving the Quincy, Mass.-based company a particularly strong foothold in the east. Its U.S. brands alone generated more than $44 billion in 2018.

Regardless of format, Ahold Delhaize’s stores manage to balance the convenience of being a one-stop shop with a neighborhood market feel. Its signature easy-to-shop layouts and focus on local and regional offerings repeatedly earn the company high marks with customers.

Ahold Delhaize has become known for its on-trend assortments and service departments, and its Giant banner even has gone as far as featuring a Fresh Hall in several locations. Emphasizing authenticity, real ingredients and a home-baked feel, this innovative merchandising concept enables the retailer to showcase its fresh offerings via signature departments. The company markets fresh, locally grown produce, and organic options featured along with an artisan bakery that offers several gluten-free options.

Ahold Delhaize has not been shy about investing in its stores to keep them new and modern looking, and its employees have played a central role in creating a reputation for quality service. Observers praise the company for focusing on improving its offerings and creating service-centric stores, rather than relying on aggressively increasing its store count to grow.

Ahold Delhaize did make an exception earlier this year when it launched its latest format, Giant Heirloom Market, in Philadelphia, featuring an assortment specifically curated for city neighborhoods. The store’s footprint is just under 10,000 sq. ft., and includes a mix of fresh seasonal foods, local offerings and everyday items. Despite a smaller space, there are plenty of service-based departments. For example, an on-site produce chef is on hand to prepare fruit and vegetables on request. Sampling stations also will be part of the everyday mix. Company officials said they are planning to launch more stores in the near future.

Neil Stern, senior partner at McMillanDoolittle in Chicago, said Ahold Delhaize’s attention of late may have been focused on integrating the Delhaize acquisition, but now it is actively working to build competencies like private label across all of their brands. “Ahold is also innovating in e-commerce, where they are leveraging Peapod, as well as external partners,” Stern said, referring to the program the company launched in February called Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod. Ahold built a 38,000-sq.-ft. hub in Lancaster, Pa., which gives shoppers the option of having their online orders delivered to this pick-up location.

Stern said the introduction of a smaller fresh-focused format, referring to Heirloom Market, was an “innovative, bold and necessary move to remain competitive in certain markets.”

This story is one of 20 profiles of retailers who are making a difference in the industry. To read more, click here