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Ahold Delhaize said yesterday that it has completed its acquisition of e-grocery pure play FreshDirect, in which it will own 80 percent of the business;  private equity group Centerbridge Partners is acquiring the remaining 20 percent.

Frans Muller, Ahold Delhaize’s CEO, said, “We are very pleased that we can now definitively welcome FreshDirect to our family of great local brands. This leading local online brand with a large and loyal following will help us reach additional customers in the New York trade area and further propel our omni-channel evolution. We are looking forward to working with our new FreshDirect colleagues.” 

Ahold Delhaize has said that FreshDirect will retain its brand name and operate independently out of its New York City warehouse, from which it delivers fresh food and prepared meals there and in select markets between Connecticut and Washington, DC.

KC's View:

Ahold Delhaize has a real opportunity here.  It can extend certain operational and financial efficiencies to FreshDirect, and it can learn much from how its new addition uses the e-commerce channel in fresh food.  And, it can incorporate the brand into its stores, creating FreshDirect sections with high-quality prepared foods and meals that can differentiate it from competitors.

But it has to embrace the opportunity in an intelligent and nuanced way.  Because it actually is easier to kill the brand than it would be to celebrate it.