Jef Colruyt: "Sooner or later Albert Heijn will eat up Delhaize"

Colruyt Group

Despite a decreasing market share, Colruyt believes in a relaunch post-corona. The increasing cooperation between Albert Heijn and Delhaize hardly affects the Belgian market leader. CEO Jef Colruyt does not comment about a possible merger with Jumbo.


"What will be left of Delhaize in the future?”

In a remarkable interview with Flemish newspaper De Standaard, CEO Jef Colruyt expresses European and even global ambitions for his energy activities, but in retail he only sees European potential for online pharmacy Newpharma. That the market share of Colruyt supermarkets is under pressure in Belgium is mainly due to corona, says the top executive: Colruyt has fewer convenience stores and missed the nightshops as customers. He thinks that the market leader can take back ground when everything starts up again.

The fact that competitors Albert Heijn and Delhaize are now firing arrows simultaneously and working ever more closely together does not worry the CEO. "What will soon be left of Delhaize? One eats the other, sooner or later... The question is whether we, as a full range discounter, will suffer much from this. We feel it for a while, but after a year the impact is gone. But how far can Ahold go without undermining its other chain, Delhaize? Unless the intention is to push one more out of the market."


"The Dutch are good at perception"

Jef Colruyt points out that Jumbo and also Albert Heijn are on average 7 to 8 percent more expensive than Colruyt Lowest Prices. "The Dutch are good at perception and we are too modest in this."

To the newspaper's suggestion that a merger of Colruyt's retail branch with that of Jumbo could position a solid story with family shared values against Ahold Delhaize, the top executive does not want to respond: "I understand your rationale, but I'm not going to say anything about that, if that's OK with you." But when the journalist insists with the question "The Dutch like to have their say, but your family doesn't want to hand over the keys yet and neither does Jumbo?" he responds with a dry "You say it yourself."


"Decision on home delivery this year"

In the interview, Jef Colruyt also discusses the growing importance of online in food. Pick-up service Collect&Go has experienced a growth of at least 50 percent, and this continues for the time being. "Will 10 percent of the groceries be done this way in the coming years? We are looking at whether we need to tighten up the network in the major cities."

By the end of this year, Colruyt promises a decision on home delivery, a project that is still in the testing phase for now, but in the business model of fast couriers like Gorillas or Deliveroo the top man does not believe, because it adds little to the market and is difficult to get profitable. Collect&Go typically targets two-income households that place their shopping list on Wednesday, to be collected on Saturday. The average spending amounts to 60 euros.