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Ahold Delhaize on the lookout for next Chief Sustainability Officer

The current CSO, Jan Ernst de Groot, will be retiring next May.
Melodie Michel
Ahold Delhaize Chief Sustainability Officer Jan Erst de Groot is retiring next May
Ahold Delhaize Chief Sustainability Officer Jan Ernst de Groot is retiring next May

Retail multinational Ahold Delhaize is looking for a new Chief Sustainability Officer to sit within its executive committee after its current CSO Jan Ernst de Groot retires next May.

The Dutch-Belgian retail conglomerate, which reported net revenue of €468 million in the second quarter of this year, created the Chief Sustainability Officer position in August 2022 to signal the importance of sustainability in its strategy. De Groot, who was already the company’s Chief Legal Officer, took on the extra role and has served as CLO and CSO since then.

“Following Jan Ernst’s decision, the company has decided to create a dedicated role for Sustainability in the Executive Committee(...). We have started the selection process for the Chief Sustainability Officer position,” the company said in a statement.

The role of Chief Legal Officer will be filled by Linn Evans, currently Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel at Ahold Delhaize USA. 

Read also: Estée Lauder strengthens climate action management as net GHG emissions creep up

Ahold Delhaize sustainability-linked financing

Ahold Delhaize is the owner of supermarket and convenience store brands such as Albert Heijn in the Netherlands, and Giant in the US, as well as online grocer FreshDirect. It was responsible for more than 65 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, 95% of which in Scope 3. 

The company issued its first, €600 million sustainability-linked bond in 2021, followed by an oversubscribed €1.5 billion sustainability-linked revolving credit facility at the end of 2022. Both these financing facilities are attached to 2025 sustainability performance targets, including Scope 1 and 2 emissions reduction and food waste mitigation.

In October 2022, a report by independent research organisation Profundo found that if Ahold Delhaize had to pay a carbon tax under the EU ETS (which currently only covers highly polluting industries) under its climate plans at the time, it would be liable for a €119 billion climate bill by 2050 – more than four times its market capitalisation.

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Updates Scope 3 reduction targets

Shortly after, the company announced an updated 2030 target to cut value chain emissions by 37% – which has been submitted for approval to the Science-Based Targets Initiative. With this goal, Ahold Delhaize said it would encourage suppliers and farmers in setting their own SBTi-aligned decarbonisation targets, and support them in doing that through long-term contracts. In its 2022 annual report, the company notes that 50 of its top 100 suppliers are already committed to setting an SBTi-aligned emissions reduction target.

The new value chain goal is an addition to the company’s short-term target to cut operational emissions by 29% by 2025 and to be net zero by 2040, with a 90% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 and 83% in Scope 3.

Carbon footprint reduction is one of the KPIs used in executive management compensation at Ahold Delhaize, weighing about 5%.

Commenting on his departure, de Groot said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ahold Delhaize, a food retailer that is truly at the heart of society. I feel that the time is right to step back after more than nine years, during which the company has developed into a strong organisation that is providing consistent value for all stakeholders while taking on the ambition of leading the transition to a sustainable food system. I am incredibly proud of what our teams have accomplished.”