Ahold Delhaize’s Boer will leave a lasting legacy

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Ahold Delhaize’s Boer will leave a lasting legacy

By Lawrence Aylward - 06/13/2018

Goodbye and good luck to Dick Boer, an international figure in the world of grocery and a champion of private brands.

Boer will step down as CEO of Ahold Delhaize on July 1. He was named CEO of the company in 2016 and in the last two years oversaw the merger of Dutch grocer Ahold and Belgian rival the Delhaize Group, which included Ahold USA and Delhaize America.

Prior to the merger between Ahold and Delhaize Group, Boer was CEO of Ahold for seven years.

There was no reason given for Boer’s departure, although Boer, who turns 61 in August, said in his last meeting with shareholders in April, that “there could be no better time to step down.”

“We are in great shape. The integration of the company is largely complete. … We are posting outstanding financial results,” Boer said at the outset of the meeting.

Despite his retirement, it doesn’t seem that time has passed Boer by, especially when it comes to private brands. Boer clearly has been up on own brand trends and has embraced the challenges that private brands have presented.

Ahold Delhaize’s store brands are well-recognized and popular among its 21 banners in 11 countries, including Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Hannaford, Giant, Giant Food, GIANT/MARTIN’S and Peapod in the U.S.

“Dick has been a longstanding champion for private brands and the important role private brand products play in meeting the needs of customers and creating better places to shop, work and live,” says Juan De Paoli, senior vice president of Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize company in the U.S. that oversees private brands. “His vision and support of strong private brands strategies are at the core of the leadership role Ahold Delhaize’s local brands play in the private brands space today.”

Boer joined Ahold in 1998 as CEO of Ahold Czech Republic. Five years after joining the company, Ahold endured a fraud scandal, in which Boer was not involved and did not know about. Ahold’s former CEO and chief financial officer were found guilty and fined. Boer was shocked and wondered if Ahold, labeled as “Europe’s Enron,” would survive.

But Boer stuck with Ahold, despite the retailer taking a hit to its reputation, according to reports. He made a name for himself for his operational efficiencies, passion for private brands and putting the customer first. He was named CEO of Ahold in 2010.

“Dick embodies the customer-first mindset, and that’s critical when it comes to private brands,” De Paoli says. “Private brands have a unique ability to blend value and quality to delight consumers, creating engagement and loyalty. Dick believed this, and created the support and space for private

brands to grow and thrive within the portfolio. He is a true leader that has made a significant imprint on Ahold Delhaize’s local brands in so many areas, especially with respect to private brands.”

Boer grew up in the grocery business. As a teenager, he worked in his father’s store in Axel, a town in southwest Netherlands. Boer embraced the business. He is a self-labeled supermarket “addict,” who enjoys going into stores to peruse their store brand assortments.

Despite his retirement, something tells me Boer won’t stop doing that.

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