Ahold CEO: Consumer in Control

AMSTERDAM — Ahold [4] in 2012 will look to continue its momentum behind a strategic plan that provides an edge in meeting the needs of a changing consumer, Dick Boer, chief executive of the retailer, said at Ahold’s annual meeting here.

“The way people are shopping is changing dramatically,” Boer said in prepared remarks Wednesday. “Customers are able to choose how, when, and where they shop — and how much they are willing to pay. So — today’s customer has all the power, and that’s great news. It keeps us focused and enables us to better respond to customer needs and expectations. Ahold is in a strong position to take advantage of these rapid developments in customer behavior, shopping trends and the retail environment.”

Boer said the company in the new fiscal year would continue to refine a set of six “strategic pillars” laid out a year ago, built around growing sales through increased customer loyalty, broader offerings and expanded geographic reach, and supported by internal efforts to reduce complexity, act responsibility and support employees. He said Ahold would expand direct mail and email programs launched in 2011 that target individual shoppers with personal offers based on their shopping history.

Boer acknowledged progress in each of its U.S. divisions in 2011, including the completion of a chain-wide renovation program at Giant-Landover; acquisitions that grew Stop & Shop-New York Metro and Giant-Carlisle, respectively; and format evolution, including a smaller store concept from Giant-Carlisle and a grocery pickup model by Stop & Shop in New England. Its U.S. Internet sales arm, Peapod, recorded double-digit sales increases in 2011.