Ahold continues its work to improve its “own-brand” products and Boer told the audience that Ahold U.S. businesses are “…on track to build own-brand penetration here to a target of 40 percent by 2016. Last year, the divisions reformulated one in five own-brand products to meet higher quality standards.” He added that sales of Guaranteed Value own-brand range are up almost 20 percent.
Boer addressed the importance of having great employees and said that Ahold strives for workplaces built on “fairness and mutual respect.” He stressed that the retailer is committed to maintaining constructive relationships with labor unions in the markets where the retailer’s employees have chosen union representation, highlighting the new contract that Stop & Shop’s New England division recently agreed to with the Teamsters union covering its Massachusetts distribution center. He also noted the successful collective bargaining agreements Stop & Shop agreed to with five UFCW Locals in New England that found solutions to the new U.S. health care law changes set to take place in 2014.
Boer also addressed the company’s outlook for 2013, noting that Ahold expects to double its store count in Belgium and will continue to roll out pick-up points in the U.S. and the Netherlands. “We know we can’t change the environment we’re operating in, but we’re well positioned to respond to it, as you’ve seen in our 2012 performance. We have the right strategy in place, and we will keep delivering on it in 2013,” he said.
In other business at the AGM, shareholders adopted Ahold’s 2012 financial statements and determined the dividend over 2012 at 0.44 euros per common share. Additionally, shareholders adopted all other proposals on the agenda including appointments and reappointments to the company’s supervisory board.