AHOLD TO IMPLEMENT CATEGORY PLANNER

CHANTILLY, Va. -- Officials at Ahold USA here said it is rolling out a new Web-based category management system in 1,100 stores across five chains. It is designed to provide more standardized and less conflicting category sales performance data.Mike Marrotte, vice president of grocery, Ahold USA, said the system, Category Business Planner from ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill., will be up and running at

CHANTILLY, Va. -- Officials at Ahold USA here said it is rolling out a new Web-based category management system in 1,100 stores across five chains. It is designed to provide more standardized and less conflicting category sales performance data.

Mike Marrotte, vice president of grocery, Ahold USA, said the system, Category Business Planner from ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill., will be up and running at Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Giant-Landover, Giant-Carlisle, Bi-Lo and Tops Markets by April 1.

"Now we will have one way to look at [sales] data based on one consumer decision tree instead of several," Marrotte said.

In the past, Ahold relied on sales and category performance information supplied by manufacturers.

Often, Marrotte said, the categories were segmented differently by different manufacturers, making it difficult to conduct any type of comparative analysis.

However, with the new system, ACNielsen will create a standardized system making it much easier to make comparisons among operating divisions, Marrotte said.

"It will reduce conflicting data. We will all be looking at the same information," Marrotte said.

"We are determined that we want to make decisions based on facts," he added.

Additionally, the former system was not Web-based and not in real time. Information had to be downloaded into Ahold's system from computer data "tapes," Marrotte said.

"Now, we will be able to make much better merchandising decisions on our assortment mix and promotions in our stores."

ACNielsen's CBP allows category managers to access the sales category information right from desktop computers. A new feature includes news headlines about key category performance indicators.

The new system will also allow manufacturers working with Ahold access to the same information about product category performance in each Ahold USA division.

Marrotte said the only Ahold USA division not affected by the rollout is Bruno's Supermarkets, Birmingham, Ala., since that chain was already on the ACNielsen system when Ahold acquired it in December 2001.

ACNielsen will host the Web-based system and Ahold will link in.

"It will enable us to better know our customers so we can get the right product in the right place at the right time and price," Marrotte said.

Marrotte said implementing the new system represented a "substantial" investment for the company. However, he declined to provide specifics.