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    Ahold Makes First Buy In Three Years with Czech Chain

    ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold will acquire up to 67 Julius Meinl supermarkets in the Czech Republic for an undisclosed sum, the global retailer based here said yesterday. As its first acquisition since embarking on its "Road to Recovery" three years ago in the wake of a major accounting scandal, the deal will increase Ahold's store count in the Czech Republic to about 300, and in Central Europe to approximately 520.

    ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold will acquire up to 67 Julius Meinl supermarkets in the Czech Republic for an undisclosed sum, the global retailer based here said yesterday. As its first acquisition since embarking on its "Road to Recovery" three years ago in the wake of a major accounting scandal, the deal will increase Ahold's store count in the Czech Republic to about 300, and in Central Europe to approximately 520.

    Completion of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including anti-trust approval, and is expected to close in the second half of 2005.

    Calling it "another milestone in our recent history," Anders Moberg, Ahold's president and c.e.o. said, "We are nearing the successful completion of our divestment program and are now growing the business in key markets through selective acquisitions."

    Following finalization of the deal, Ahold will rebrand the Julius Meinl stores to Albert, the banner under which Ahold operates its supermarkets in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. As a result, the number of Albert supermarkets in the Czech Republic will increase to approximately 250.

    Ahold said it will offer employment to the associates involved. In addition, Ahold will assume store-related stock and existing lease agreements.

    Active in the Czech Republic since 1991, Ahold merged its Czech, Slovak and Polish operations into one management entity, known as Ahold Central Europe, in January 2003. Headquartered in the Czech capital Prague, the more efficient operating unit has helped Ahold's position in all three markets, according to the company.

    Ahold Central Europe, with 2004 consolidated net sales of about 1.7 billion euros, employs approximately 25,000 associates, of whom 13,000 in the Czech Republic.

    Julius Meinl, a.s. is a subsidiary of Julius Meinl International AG, an Austrian investment holding company, which through its subsidiaries operates a retail food chain in Central and Eastern Europe.

    With 2004 retail sales of approximately EUR 140 million in the Czech Republic, Julius Meinl employs about 1,700 people in its 67 stores. The stores sell food and grocery items including meat, fruit and vegetables, baked products and wine and liquor.

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