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Ahold to shift US base to Mass.

Company to close offices in Virginia

CHANTILLY, Va. -- Ahold USA, the US arm of Dutch supermarket company Royal Ahold, will close its Virginia headquarters and relocate to Massachusetts to improve efficiency, the company said yesterday.

Ahold USA, which operates 1,300 supermarkets in the United States, including Stop & Shop and Giant Food, said the consolidation should happen in July. The Chantilly headquarters employs about 100 people.

A company statement didn't say whether the employees would be moved to the new offices in the Boston area. A spokesman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Bill Grize, president and chief executive of Ahold USA, said the move will streamline and integrate operations to improve the company's decision making and reorganize support personnel.

In November, the company launched a "Road to Recovery" plan aimed at combining administrative and management functions of Quincy-based Stop & Shop and Giant Food of Landover, Md. The office will now include Ahold USA.

The news came the same day Royal Ahold said it would sell its chain of 204 convenience stores in New York state.

The Netherlands-based company is still struggling after a billion-dollar accounting scandal last year, due largely to overstated earnings in the United States.

Ahold is the world's third-largest retailer, after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and France's Carrefour. It owns US Foodservice, a food distributor based in Columbia, Md., and several US grocery chains, including Stop & Shop and Bruno's. Ahold plans to sell the 204 convenience stores in New York state operating under the names Wilson Farms Neighborhood Food Stores, Sugarcreek Stores, and Tops Xpress. Ahold said a list of potential bidders was being compiled but it isn't yet in talks.

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