September 12, 2023 – Last April, JJ Fleeman was appointed CEO of Ahold Delhaize USA. We took some time for a Q&A with JJ to learn more about his professional journey, leadership philosophy and the strategic direction he envisions for the company. With a career rooted in a variety of roles across the companies of Ahold Delhaize, JJ’s path has been marked by his dedication to nurturing talent and fostering excellence.
JJ's journey within Ahold Delhaize USA began at Food Lion, after which he moved on to roles through – known at the time as – Delhaize America. Most recently, JJ was the Brand President of Peapod Digital Labs before being named CEO, Ahold Delhaize USA. His firsthand experience of working in a variety of roles at retail and in support brands has allowed him to gain a deep understanding of the challenges faced by teams on a daily basis. Recognizing the crucial role of leadership in ensuring team success, JJ emphasizes the need to provide a solid foundation for associates to succeed.
How would you describe your purpose as a leader?
My purpose as a leader is to help create the foundation for teams in each of our U.S. companies to succeed day in and day out. We have exceptionally skilled teams, and my role is to set the foundation to unleash their potential by providing the support and environment they need. It's also important that we build diverse, inclusive teams that are engaged not only with their work, but also with each other so our people can share their passion about the things that matter to them. And I think that allows us to bring our key strategies to life as people can feel that they are able to bring their full and whole selves to work.
What do you think is the biggest strength of Ahold Delhaize USA at the moment?
Our talent and our people. This strength, coupled with a portfolio of strong brands, positions our company as a leader in both our U.S. and European markets – our brands’ ability to connect locally with customers and communities sets us apart. Moreover, we're getting better at leveraging our size and scale, not only in the U.S. but with Europe too. Recent initiatives like our global focus areas demonstrate how we're combining local strength with the ability to learn and scale quickly. That’s giving us confidence that we can do even more together in the future.
You have a fresh take on things as Ahold Delhaize USA's new CEO, what are the key strategic areas you want to focus on in the next years to come?
Our industry is evolving rapidly, and we need to continue to evolve with our brands’ customers. Areas of digital engagement, health, sustainability and personalization are the areas in which we can set ourselves apart from the competition. And what will always remain at our core is the close connection each of our brands has with their customers. This is the cornerstone of our success. We have a unique opportunity to make grocery shopping and meal planning the best experience for customers and our teams do this incredibly well. It positions us to lead the industry's ongoing changes.
I also think that it'll be important that we deliver on the promise that building diverse and inclusive teams that are reflective of those that we serve. Giving back to our communities through donations of food or community work – whatever that might be – is going to be really important to sustain our local brand connection for the future. Additionally, we need to remain committed to nourishing people and the planet.