Delhaize, the Belgian grocery chain that owns U.S. grocers Food Lion and Hannaford, is tightening its grip on its U.S. operations. The chain named a new CEO on Wednesday (Sept. 4) and said that Delhaize America will now report directly to him.
The new CEO is Frans Muller, who will officially join Delhaize on Oct. 14 and become CEO on Nov. 8. Muller replaces Pierre-Olivier Beckers, who has been CEO since 1999 and is largely responsible for the company's expansion in the U.S. Delhaize America generated about 65 percent of Delhaize's total sales in 2012. However, Delhaize America closed 113 stores and shut down its Bloom chain in 2012, and in May agreed to sell its Harveys, Reid's and Sweetbay chains to Bi-Lo for $265 million. That deal reduced Delhaize America to just the Food Lion, Hannaford and Bottom Dollar grocery chains.
Also gone is Roland Smith, who resigned as CEO Delhaize America after less than a year on the job.
Muller was chief executive of Metro Group's largest division, Metro Cash & Carry, until April when he was squeezed out after Metro Group CEO Olaf Koch decided to take direct control of the Cash & Carry hypermarkets. For his part, Muller will be taking direct control of Delhaize's U.S. operations, pushing out Smith.
Delhaize has about 3,300 stores worldwide and around 1,350 stores in the U.S. Its profits have fallen from about €1 billion ($1.35 billion) in 2010 to €390 million ($515 million) in 2012.
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