CNBC has an interview with FreshDirect CEO David McInerney in which he says that the planned acquisition of his company by Ahold Delhaize will bring only benefits to his fresh food-centric business.

According to the story, “McInerney said that he appreciated how Ahold Delhaize plans to preserve the e-commerce company’s brand. FreshDirect will keep its name and will still independently operate its New York City facility.”

Ahold Delhaize announced last week that it will acquire 80 percent of FreshDirect – private equity group Centerbridge Partners is in for the other 20 percent. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The story suggests that the pandemic-induced acceleration of e-grocery has made the pairing timely: “Being that we’re on top of our game right now … strong double digit-growth, we were naturally attractive, given where the world is in terms of adoption of online food,” McInerney said.

KC’s View:
Not to be overly blunt or cynical about this deal, but its success depends on Ahold Delhaize not screwing it up.

FreshDirect has a very specific expertise, and it is important that Ahold Delhaize learn from it, offer synergies and efficiencies where appropriate, and not impose its own structures and strictures on FreshDirect in a way that inhibits creativity and innovation. And they ought together look for ways to partner – maybe FreshDirect-branded prepared food sections in various Ahold Delhaize banners?

I will say this. The betting among industry folks to whom I have spoken is that the FreshDirect brand doesn’t survive two years under the new ownership. It is up to Ahold Delhaize to prove the naysayers wrong – and not just keep alive the name, but the culture that made it special.

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