- Ahold Delhaize USA CEO Kevin Holt plans to step down on April 12, 2023, when his current term ends, the grocery company announced Tuesday.
- Ahold Delhaize said it will nominate JJ Fleeman, who currently serves as chief commercial and digital officer of Ahold Delhaize USA and president of Peapod Digital Labs, to the CEO post at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in mid-April. Fleeman has spent the majority of his career with Ahold Delhaize and has held his current roles since 2018.
- Holt will stay on with Ahold Delhaize throughout the year to help with the transition, then will retire at the end of 2023.
Ahold Delhaize’s appointment of Fleeman as the next chief of its U.S. management team comes as the grocer steps up investments in technology — an area where he already plays a central role for the company.
In his current role running Peapod Digital Labs, Fleeman oversees Ahold Delhaize USA’s efforts in a variety of areas the retailer has identified as key to its future success, including e-commerce, automation and personalization. The division, established in mid-2018 under Fleeman’s leadership, heads technology-focused initiatives for all of Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. supermarket banners, which include Giant Food, The Giant Company, Food Lion, Hannaford and Stop & Shop.
Before becoming head of Peapod Digital Labs, Fleeman was executive vice president of commercial services and strategy for Ahold Delhaize’s Retail Business Services unit, which serves the company’s retail brands in the U.S.
Peapod Digital Labs leads a range of projects at the core of Ahold Delhaize USA’s omnichannel operations, including the company’s efforts to adopt automated micro-fulfillment technology and deploy analytics to customize relationships with shoppers. Last month, Ahold Delhaize announced that it intends to convert AD Retail Media, a technology-focused advertising initiative, into a fully in-house unit under Peapod Digital Labs.
Holt has been Ahold Delhaize USA’s CEO since the beginning of 2018, and prior to that served as chief operating officer of Ahold USA. He was CEO of Delhaize America when the company agreed to merge with Ahold, and served briefly as chief operating officer at Delhaize after the merger was completed in 2016.
During Holt’s tenure as Ahold USA CEO, the company deepened its digital business, remodeled hundreds of stores and weathered the disruptions of the pandemic, supply chain shortages and record-high inflation. It also expanded its footprint, taking over online grocer FreshDirect in early 2021.
Before joining Delhaize Group in 2014, Holt was president of retail operations for SuperValu, which at the time owned the Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and Save-A-Lot chains. Holt has also worked for Sears Holding Company and Meijer in a retail career that spanned more than 30 years, according to his company bio.
“Under Kevin’s leadership, our U.S. businesses have performed exceptionally well, and he has always led with customers and associates in mind,” said Frans Muller, president and CEO of Ahold Delhaize, said in a statement.
Ahold Delhaize executives have said they are placing increasing faith in technology to power results across the company. Speaking during the Netherlands-based retailer’s investor day last November, Holt said that Ahold Delhaize would use digital relationships with shoppers to boost financial performance, adding that he thought automation could help Ahold Delhaize USA double fulfillment productivity in its pickup operations.