AHOLD SAVES WITH MASTER SPECS

QUINCY, Mass. -- Ahold USA has saved "millions of dollars" by developing a set of "master specifications" for store construction throughout its operating companies, according to a senior executive.Steve Krupski, senior vice president of construction at Stop & Shop here, an Ahold USA operating company, said Ahold has used the specifications to leverage its purchasing power for materials, as well as

QUINCY, Mass. -- Ahold USA has saved "millions of dollars" by developing a set of "master specifications" for store construction throughout its operating companies, according to a senior executive.

Steve Krupski, senior vice president of construction at Stop & Shop here, an Ahold USA operating company, said Ahold has used the specifications to leverage its purchasing power for materials, as well as to secure land and architectural design. "We expect to save even more as we learn new ways to go to market as an integrated Ahold USA team," said Krupski, who is also chairman for the Ahold USA Construction Networking Group. Ahold USA, based in Chantilly, Va., but moving to Braintree, Mass., near here, has worked with Cubellis Associates, Boston, on the master specs project. Launched last year, the project is continuing with a more detailed specifications guide for Stop & Shop and Giant of Landover, Md., said Josh Burrows, vice president, chain retail, Cubellis.

Ahold's other operating companies include Tops, Giant of Carlisle, Pa., Bi-Lo's and Bruno's; the last two are on the selling block.

Krupski said the objective of the store construction program is to help grow the company's market share through store development. Lower per-store costs translate into more stores.

"Stop & Shop alone is a decent-size company, but when put together with the other Ahold USA companies, we can compete with the large national retailers," said Krupski. Ahold's NFR (Not for Resale) Group handles purchases of items from bricks to refrigerated cases.

"The bigger your program, the better the price that you can negotiate," he said. "If everyone buys the same [metal studs], you can negotiate a better price with the larger quantity. This goes for materials such as roofing, floor tile, ceiling tile and others. We increase the buying strength by leveraging the power of X quantity times six, instead of just X."

The master specifications also help Ahold's real-estate division to drive better deals and enable the company to control bidding for architectural packages, Krupski said.

There was some concern at individual Ahold chains that master specifications would lead to a common look at stores, Krupski noted. In the end, though, individual differences were allowed.

"For example, some of the operating companies use [material on] ceilings in their stores, and some do not," he stated. "Our master specifications would say, if you use a ceiling [material], then use the XYZ brand and type of tile. If you do not, and you paint instead, then use this type of paint."