Albert Heijn, grandson of the founder of the Dutch supermarket group that bears his name, has died at home in England at the age of 83.
Heijn started working for the company in 1949 when it was still run by his grandfather in Zaandam and two years later set up the country’s first self-service store.
He was chairman of the board from 1963 to 1989 and is largely credited with turning the supermarket group into a nationwide and international success.
According to the Financieele Dagblad, in 1950 Albert Heijn had annual turnover of 39 million guilders and market share of 3%. When he left, the group had annual sales of 17.7 billion guilders and had spread its wings to the US and elsewhere.
The company was renamed Ahold in 1973, a name dreamt up by his brother Gerrit Jan. Gerrit Jan was kidnapped and murdered in 1987.
The paper says Heijn also introduced electronic payments, calculating it would save 2.1 million hours a year at the company’s 500 stores. ‘That is almost 0.5% of our turnover,’ he told a conference in 1988.
In its commentary on his death, the Telegraaf writes: The death of Albert Heijn means the Netherlands has lost one of its greatest entrepreneurs of the last century.
Albert Heijn deserves to be in the Dutch corporate role of honour alongside Frits Philips, Chris Verolme, Anton Dreesmann, Gerrit van der Valk and Alfred Heineken. Through their family firms, they conquered the Netherlands, Europe and even the world.
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