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    Ahold to Sell European Foodservice Unit

    ZAANDAM, The Netherlands - Ahold said yesterday it intends to divest its Benelux foodservice unit, Deli XL, as it focuses on its Dutch retail business activities. The company said it has initiated a preparatory review and expects to launch the formal divestment process of Deli XL shortly.

    ZAANDAM, The Netherlands - Ahold said yesterday it intends to divest its Benelux foodservice unit, Deli XL, as it focuses on its Dutch retail business activities. The company said it has initiated a preparatory review and expects to launch the formal divestment process of Deli XL shortly.

    Deli XL is the market leader in the Netherlands and Belgium. With consolidated 2003 net sales of Euro 837 million, Deli XL is especially strong in the institutional and catering segments of the foodservice market, which Ahold entered in 1985. Currently, Deli XL provides some 60,000 products to 30,000 hospitals, company canteens, schools, and hospitality outlets.

    "We have decided to divest Deli XL despite the fact that we believe the company is well placed to take advantage of growth opportunities as the fragmented European foodservice industry consolidates," said Ahold president and c.e.o. Anders Moberg in a statement. "Our Dutch business arena strategy is targeted on its retail activities. The investment and management attention needed to assume a greater role in European foodservice is inconsistent with this focus. We therefore believe that Deli XL's huge potential can better be realized under new ownership. We are committed to a diligent and proper process to find a buyer that offers the best conditions for continuity and is able to assume responsibility for the assets and associates of Deli XL."

    Ahold noted that its decision to sell Deli XL relates solely to its Dutch business arena and has no implications for its American foodservice operations. In the U.S. foodservice industry, which has consolidated more quickly, the company's U.S. Foodservice subsidiary had net sales in 2003 of over $17 billion and holds the No. 2 industry position.

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