A changing of the guard at Ahold Delhaize will commence this summer, as CEO Dick Boer has announced plans to retire effective July 1 and will be replaced by Frans Muller, a succession that marks the next phase for the Dutch retail giant.
The widely anticipated move elevates the former CEO of Delhaize to lead the merged company. Muller had been serving as deputy CEO of Ahold Delhaize and oversaw the integration of the companies, a process that was largely completed early this year. Muller also served as an interim CEO of Delhaize America during that transition.
Separately on Wednesday, the company said Chairman Mats Jansson will retire from the retailer’s supervisory board following its annual meeting next week. Jan Hommen has been appointed chairman of that board, which oversees its management board.
The $29 billion Ahold-Delhaize merger brought Ahold’s Stop & Shop, Giant Food and Giant/Martin’s chains together with Delhaize’s Hannaford and Food Lion brands in the U.S., while also combining their chains in Europe. Its U.S. chains had sales of around $47 billion in 2017.
“Together with Dick, Frans was instrumental in bringing together Ahold and Delhaize Group. During the past two years he has been driving the integration process in close collaboration with our great local brands and support offices,” Jansson said in a statement. “Frans brings a wealth of retail experience and a deep knowledge of our company, brands and U.S. and European markets, making him the natural choice as next CEO. Frans is committed to the brand-centric operating model which is key to our strategy and has the customer at its core. We are confident that Frans is the right person to lead the company into its next phase.”
Boer, 60, was CEO of Ahold for six years before the merger. He had previously served as CEO of Ahold’s Albert Heijn chain in the Netherlands from 2000 until 2011, and was COO of Ahold Europe from 2006 until 2011. He currently chairs Ahold’s management board.
“We thank Dick for his leadership and dedication throughout his 20-year career at Ahold Delhaize and Ahold. Dick’s accomplishments include the successful repositioning of Albert Heijn to market leadership, strategically building Ahold’s portfolio into brands with number one and two positions in the markets they serve, and introducing digital, e-commerce and sustainability as integrated parts of the business,” Jansson said. “Dick has role-modelled the values of our ‘Better Together’ strategy, with his passion for retail, customers, associates and health. Under Dick’s leadership, two leading food retailers were brought together in an historic merger. With this merger now being substantially completed, Ahold Delhaize is now ready to move into its next phase.”
Prior to the merger between Ahold and Delhaize, Muller, 56, served as president and CEO of Delhaize Group. Previously, he served on the management board of German retailer Metro AG for seven years and was CEO of Metro Cash & Carry for five years. Like Boer, he is a Dutch national.
“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to lead this company with such powerful brands, incredible talent and long-term growth potential—a combination that sets us apart globally,” Muller said. “Our success will be based upon delivering a great and seamless shopping experience for our customers, both in stores and online. Building on the solid foundations established under Dick’s leadership, we will continue to drive innovation and growth in stores and online as we execute our strategy and create value for all our stakeholders. My focus will be on delivering our promises to be a better place to shop, better place to work and better neighbor—every day.”
“Today, our company is well-positioned for long-term growth, creating a natural moment for me to step down,” Boer said in a statement. “I am proud of what we achieved together and it is my absolute pleasure to be handing the helm to Frans, who I have come to know as a talented leader. I wish him, the executive team and everyone at the company all the best for the future.”
Jansson has been chairman of the supervisory board since the merger between Ahold and Delhaize Group in July 2016. Prior to that, he served as chairman of Delhaize Group. Hommen has been vice chairman of the supervisory board since July 2016. Prior to the merger, he served as chairman of Ahold’s supervisory board.
The company also said Johnny Thijs and Patrick De Maeseneire will step down from its board of supervisors next week after having indicated that they are unable to continue the membership of the with their other commitments.
Bill McEwan has been appointed as vice chairman, succeeding Hommen.