Dutch retailer Ahold increased sales 7.9% during its fourth quarter and is to part company with the chief executive of its Albert Heijn business.

Ahold increased sales from €7.47bn (£5.73bn) to €8.06bn (£6.17bn) during the three-month period. Sales at its Albert Heijn supermarket fascia in the Netherlands rose 4.5% as it opened new stores.  

Albert Heijn boss Sander van der Laan will step down on February 1 and be succeeded by Wouter Kolk, who at present is executive vice-president of speciality stores and new markets at Albert Heijn.

Ahold chief executive Dick Boer said: “Under [van der Laan’s] leadership, Albert Heijn introduced iconic and award-winning commercial campaigns that were much appreciated by our customers.

“In addition, Albert Heijn developed into a multichannel brand and successfully expanded into new geographies. We wish Sander all the very best for the future.”

Ahold did not reveal why van der Laan was leaving, although the grocer’s sales and margins have been under pressure.

In the US, where Ahold operates the Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets, the group increased same-store sales by 0.3%, compared with a fall of 0.2% a year ago.

Grocers Stop & Shop and Giant represent about 60% of Ahold’s group sales.