What a book on Ahold is teaching me ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

Albert Heijn AHOLD.jpgJust a short tweet.

I'm currently reading a Dutch book on the 2003 crisis at Ahold, but which is actually a historical account of how the corporation came to be. A couple of things I found interesting:

  • Ahold actually stands for AH (Albert Heijn) Holdings

  • We all know that things are cyclical, but it was interesting to read how a recession and high oil prices were a challenge that Ahold had to face in the 60s-70s, and how they managed to survive.

  • In order to inspire Dutch people to shop more, they introduced a financing scheme for fridges, which people couldn't afford at that time. General Motors did a similar thing to help people afford their cars; seems like an interesting way to "upgrade" an economy.

  • The fear of a socialist government drove Albert Heijn to look outwards and form Ahold (similar to why IKEA decided to globalise also).

  • One of the consequences of politics at that time was the board of directors, meant to provide impartial guidance and represent the workers.

  • They made extensive use of consultancies (often McKinsey) whenever they decided on a strategic trajectory.

  • One of the directors was a big fan of Harvard Business Review :)

  • They use the US as a source of knowledge on how to design their supermarkets. Later on, moving to the US was also seen as a way to increase that learning, as well as a new revenue-source.

  • When AH moved to the US, they also brought their own ideas, like, eh, advertising (a terrible, terrible idea).
That's it for now! I'll go into greater detail at a later date.


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