The full name of the Amsterdam, Netherlands-based international retailer is Koninklijke Ahold N.V., but simply known as Ahold in the United States market.

It is a company founded in 1887 by Albert Heijn. He opened a grocery store under his name in Oostzaan, Netherlands, which expanded and grew during the four-decade tenure of his grandsons Gerrit Jan Heijn and Albert Heijn. They grew their own brands and introduced the self-service concept in the Netherlands. The store became the major grocery chain and expanded in the beauty care, liquor and health business. In 1973, there was a change of its name to Ahold, which was derived form Albert Heijn Holding. The company went international in the 1970’s and went into Spain and the U.S. and other regions.

Accounting Irregularities

The chain had problems around 2003 when there were some accounting irregularities reported. There were claims that financial results of subsidiaries had been improperly accounted for. The result of this was a plunge in share price by two-thirds; Standard & Poors also reduced its credit-rating to BB+. Fraud charges were leveled against the company’s executives by both the U.S. and Dutch authorities and the company had to pay a hefty fine. Many executives were found guilty in the Netherlands and given suspended prison sentences, while in the U.S, the subsidiary’s top officials were given prison sentences.

Following this period of crisis the company launched a new strategy, the ‘Road to Recovery,’ which helped the company to strengthen their controls, accountability, corporate governance, and the financial health of the company was restored. Ahold U.S.A. Inc. has an online delivery service for groceries known as Peapod, which serves select markets.

Number of stores: about 750 stores

Number of states: 10 states

Divisions: Giant Carlisle, Stop & Shop New York Metro, Stop & Shop New England and Giant-Landover.