Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of Albert Heijn, received a lot of criticism in the House of Representatives on Wednesday because of its price increases, high profit and remuneration for the CEO. Various parties lashed out because they consider the wages of employees too low, while the company made a profit of 2.5 billion euros last year and CEO Frans Muller received millions.
Ahold, together with Heineken and KPN, among others, was invited to explain the alleged ‘growflation’. In doing so, prices and profits rise far beyond costs. Wages will then lag behind and consumers will have more money problems.
Although it is unclear whether this happens on a large scale in the Netherlands, a lot of discussion has recently arisen about it. This is partly because several listed companies made large profits in periods when they raised their prices considerably.
For example, Shell posted a profit of almost 40 billion euros last year, Heineken made a profit of 2.8 billion, while Ahold Delhaize made a profit of 2.5 billion. Unilever, ING and ABN AMRO, among others, also made substantial profits. The remuneration of the board members was often not tender.
Shelf fillers have difficulty buying products
Grain to the mill of mainly left-wing parties, who targeted Ahold in particular on Wednesday. For example, SP party leader Lilian Marijnissen stated that stock fillers from Albert Heijn have difficulty buying AH products, because prices have risen but their wages have risen little. “Where is your morale,” she told Ahold Delhaize HR director Casper Assinck, who had joined the company on behalf of the company.
According to Assinck, this criticism is not justified. He points out that two-thirds of Ahold’s profit is generated in America, while the profit margin in Europe is declining. He also calls the remuneration at Ahold “in line with the market”, both for supermarket employees and for the CEO.
He received a remuneration of almost 6.5 million euros over 2022, which was 128 times more than the wages of staff on the shop floor. That difference is smaller than the year before, when the CEO received 132 times more.
An interesting detail is that employees in Albert Heijn distribution centers went on strike for days earlier this month. They wanted to force higher wages in this way. It caused many empty shelves in the supermarkets. In the end, AH and the employees came to an agreement, with wages rising by 10 percent.
Flex contracts in distribution centers
GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver was also critical on Wednesday. “Ahold made a profit of 2.5 billion euros, the CEO received almost 6.5 million. On the other hand, you are fired if you are too old in the supermarket and that temporary workers in the distribution centers receive the most flexible contracts. And you dare to claim that they are well proportioned?”
Nevertheless, Assinck maintained his position that the remuneration at Ahold is in line with the market, with the salary being higher if you have more responsibility. He also added that employee satisfaction would be high and that wages have risen faster than profits.