AMSTERDAM — Albert Heijn, the former president of Ahold and grandson of the founder of the Dutch supermarket chain that bears his name, died on Thursday at age 83, Ahold said.
Heijn, along with his brother Gerrit-Jan, led the transfomation of Ahold from a small supermarket chain to a major international retailing group. “He created a grocery empire on the deceptively simple premise that doing what is right for the business starts with doing what is right for the customer,” Ahold said in a statement. Among his contributions to the global food industry was his role in the establishment of a uniform bar code. Following his retirement in 1989, he remained involved in Ahold, the holding company created in 1973, as a member of the supervisory board until 1997.
“Albert Heijn was a remarkable man. He was a spirited entrepreneur whose vision has helped shape the global food industry. He was a warm and charismatic leader who was passionate about people — both those who worked for the company and all who shopped at our stores,” John Rishton, Ahold’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.
One lasting reminder of Heijn’s dedication to the customer was a statue outside Ahold’s headquarters he donated to the company upon his retirement. Dubbed “Beppie,” the statue shows a customer holding shopping bags and bears the inscription: “Lest we forget for whom we work.”