June 20 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s Canadian business named Dirk Van den Berghe as its chief executive, effective Aug. 1, as it looks to strengthen its food business in the country.
Van den Berghe joins Wal-Mart from supermarket group Delhaize , where he was CEO for the company’s Belgium and Luxembourg operations.
He succeeds Shelley Broader, who is now CEO of the retailer’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Canada. Van den Berghe will report to Broader, Wal-Mart Canada said.
Wal-Mart is facing stiff competition in Canada as home-grown retailers Loblaw Cos Ltd and Metro Inc as well as U.S.-based chains such as Target Corp jostle for bigger slices of the crowded market.
Wal-Mart has said it will invest about C$500 million ($461 million) this year to expand in Canada and plans to add 1 million square feet of retail space.
Wal-Mart Canada operates 391 stores in the country that serve more than 1.2 million customers every day.
Wal-Mart Stores said last month that comparable sales at Wal-Mart Canada declined in the first quarter, hurt by weak sales in its apparel and outdoor business due to an unusually cold winter.
But sales in food and consumables in the country were strong and the company increased its market share.
In May, Target fired the president of its money-losing Canadian operation and named a long-time U.S. executive with operational experience to try to repair its supply chain woes and win back customers.
Target Canada’s sales have been weak with shoppers complaining about empty shelves, higher prices and less selection than at U.S. Target stores, but Target has said it is acting aggressively to make more rapid improvement in Canada.
Another rival, Sears Holdings Corp is looking to sell its 51 percent stake in Sears Canada Inc, a move that could trigger a deal for the entire Canadian operation. ($1 = 1.0853 Canadian Dollars) (Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore)