Peapod Names New CEO

FRAMINGHAM (05/02/2000) - Reflecting its new partnership with Royal Ahold, Peapod Inc. named 38-year-old Marc van Gelder, a veteran of Ahold, as its president and CEO today.

Van Gelder comes to Peapod from The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., which is also owned by Netherlands-based Royal Ahold.

"Ahold currently owns 51 percent (of Peapod) and will eventually own 75 percent, so this is not surprising that someone within their ranks will be joining Peapod," said Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at Southwest Securities Inc.

Bhatia said Peapod needed the partnership with Ahold, which was announced April 14, because the online grocer had almost run out of cash. In March, an attempt to pump $120 million into the company failed and left Peapod executives scrambling to find another benefactor.

"I think from an operational standpoint they were doing well: Business was strong, they had very good first-quarter numbers, which is sort of the irony -- they were doing fine operationally, and then they just ran out of money," Bhatia said.

Bhatia said being under Ahold's protection could be what the company needs to get through "this tough time."

Prior to his position at Stop & Shop, van Gelder had been the director of business development at Ahold in the Netherlands. He also managed projects at another Ahold subsidiary, Albert Heijn. Peapod also announced new board members: Michael Meurs, chief financial officer at Ahold; William J. Grize, president and CEO of Stop & Shop; and Steve Odland, president and CEO of Tops Supermarkets.

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