Delhaize completes sale of all company-owned supermarkets, unions remain sceptical

All of Delhaize's company-owned supermarkets have found an independent buyer, almost a year after the chain announced plans to franchise all its stores, the company said on Monday. Trade unions, which have always opposed Delhaize's franchising plans, remain sceptical, fearing lower wages and working conditions in the independently run supermarkets.

On 7 March 2023, Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize announced its intention to transfer all of its 128 directly-operated stores to independent owners, sparking a major dispute within the company. Despite continued union protests, management made the first changes official in September.

Since then, the group has regularly unveiled a wave of stores to be franchised, the latest batch of which was approved at a meeting on Monday. Delhaize says in a press release that 45 of the 128 stores have already officially opened their doors with the new buyers at the helm. Last week, Frans Muller, CEO of the Dutch parent company Ahold Delhaize, said that the franchising operation was beginning to show "encouraging results".

Seperate companies

But unions remain sceptical. According to Wilson Wellens of the liberal ACLVB/CGSLB union, some buyers will exploit the slightest loophole in the legislation to grant less favourable wage conditions. "In the latest list of stores taken over by Delhaize, I see that three stores have again been sold to the same buyer. The buyer will divide these stores into three companies, so that the employees will not be covered by a joint committee," he analyses.

According to ACLVB/CGSLB, arrangements will be less financially attractive for staff: "People will feel it"

Chains with several branches have a different joint committee (202) than small independents (202.01). According to Mr Wellens, the arrangements are less financially attractive for staff working under the latter, particularly for evening and weekend work. "People will feel it," adds the union representative.

According to a Delhaize spokesperson, "everything is 100 per cent in line with the law".

In the spring and summer of 2023, Delhaize's franchising plan led to strikes in the chain's supermarkets across the country. Despite repeated negotiations and the negative impact of the strikes on the company's financial results, Delhaize ultimately decided to go ahead with the operation.



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