March 14, 2002
Cees van der Hoeven: "The heavy load of exceptionals isn't something to be proud of"
The ever-optimistic and enthusiastic Cees van der Hoeven is always "excited" about some new project. Certainly the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Ahold N.V. is nothing if not ambitious. His spending spree at the helm of the historic Dutch grocer since 1993 has catapulted the public limited company into the big league. Ahold now ranks as the world's number two retailer by sales after Wal-Mart. Over the last decade, van der Hoeven has given our newspaper an interview virtually every year at head office in Zaandam, near Amsterdam. Each time Ahold has become an even more global, diversified and complex group. Few big retail bosses talk about doubling annual revenues and net earnings every five years, and still fewer actually achieve this. However, a new note of caution has crept into van der Hoeven's fluent and cosmopolitan repartee recently, and Ahold's relentless pace of internationalisation has come to a sharp halt. We wanted to know why.
October 9, 2001
En compagnie: Spar CEO Fritz Ammann gets a visit from France
In May 1997, I.T.M. Entreprises S.A. (Intermarché) took a majority stake in the moribund German retailer Spar HandelsAG. Since then, the German acquisition has not stopped haemorrhaging money. The leading French retailer co-operative is now bogged down in a morass of heavy restructuring and modernisation costs. On a visit to Spar head office in Schenefeld, near Hamburg, Intermarché president Pierre Gourgeon and Spar CEO Dr. Fritz Ammann insisted that the company had not acquired a pig-in-the-poke. Certainly, finance investors Klaus-Peter Schneidewind & Co. made an advantageous deal! While Gourgeon and Ammann talked about their German horror trip with a studied lack of buyer's remorse, it would be difficult to imagine a more desperate-looking set of men.
October 9, 2001
On a visit to Germany: Geoffrey Mulcahy
Regarded by some as a living legend, quiet-spoken Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, Group Chief Executive of Kingfisher plc, is surprisingly unpretentious. In fact, his easy-going way makes it hard to understand why he has polarised City opinion during his long career in retailing. This is a man, who was praised to the hilt for turning around what was once FW Woolworth. He then fell like an angel from City grace, only to be returned to relative favour recently. Mulcahy has now split Kingfisher into two separate companies so that the new group can focus on international expansion. Was that his reason for a recent trip to Germany? A talk was arranged to find out in the breakfast room of Munich's famous "Bayrischer Hof". Mulcahy admitted to looking at the "Praktiker" DIY store portfolio. However, he was underwhelmed by the quality of the Metro Group subsidiary's sites, calling a third of them "quite frankly rubbish". This is obviously a man who calls a spade a spade.
July 1, 2000
More knowledge, right decisions: Lebensmittel Zeitung with its online sisters
Welcome to German Retail Blog, the English online platform of Lebensmittel Zeitung, Germany's leading retail & fmcg trade publication. German Retail Blog provides an English newsletter service for those who would not normally read Lebensmittel Zeitung for language reasons. This is a reaction to increasing demands for at least some of our B2B newspaper content to be made available to a larger international readership. As the title "German Retail Blog" implies, the posts essentially comment on the fascinating world of German retailing. However, the strong internationalisation of German retailers and the importance of the local market for global fmcg manufacturers inevitably oblige us to look beyond national borders.