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ZAANDAM, NETHERLANDS-Supermarket giant Ahold, emergingfrom a difficult financial period, has agreed toacquire Julius Meinl a.s., a supermarket company with67 stores in the Czech Republic.

The acquisition, which significantly increases Ahold’spresence in Central Europe, is expected to closebefore the end of the year. The financial terms of thetransaction were not disclosed, however, Julius Meinlposted 140 million euros sales during 2004.

The move represents Ahold’s first significantinvestment since Ahold president & CEO Anders Moberglaunched his ‘road to recovery’ program in 2003, aneffort to reduce the company’s debt and get it back onsound financial footing after a huge financialscandal.

Specifically, the program included the sale of 2.6billion euros worth of assets including the sale of BI-LO/Bruno’sretail operations in the United Statesand 198 convenience store properties owned by its USsubsidiary Tops Markets LLC. The supermarket giantalso sold assets in Brazil, Argentina, Thailand andSpain.

In May, Moberg said at Ahold’s annual shareholdersmeeting at The Hague that the company was not in theright position for large acquisitions. “Growth forgrowth’s sake will not be on our radar screen. It isabout profitable growth, therefore our focus regardingfurther acquisitions will be on geographic areas andcultures that are close to ours.”

The Julius Meinl expands Ahold’s storecount in theCzech Republic to about 300 and to roughly 520 inCentral Europe. The stores will be rebranded toAlbert, which is the brand Ahold operates in CentralEurope. Ahold Central Europe’s operations are based inPrague, and during 2004 the company posted sales of1.7 billion euros.

Julius Meinl is a subsidiary of Julius Meinl International AG, an Austrian investment holding company. In addition to operating a retail food chain through it subsidiaries in Central and Eastern Europe, the company operates a coffee roasting plant and distributes coffee and tea.

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