BRUSSELS — Delhaize Group here said Wednesday that Pierre-Olivier Beckers, longtime president and chief executive officer, will retire by the end of this year.

The company said Beckers will stay in his post until a new CEO is appointed “and a smooth transition has taken place.” He will continue to serve on the board, in a non-executive capacity, after stepping down as CEO.

Pierre-Olivier BeckersBeckers joined Delhaize Group in 1983, has been a director of the company since 1995 and was appointed president and CEO in January 1999. Since 1999, the number of stores has grown from 1,904 to 3,411 in 10 countries on three continents, and revenues have grown from about $17 billion to almost $30 billion.

Delhaize said its board of directors is conducting a search for a successor and will consider both internal and external candidates.

"Pierre-Olivier Beckers has worked for Delhaize for 30 years with tireless energy and absolute passion, displaying very strong values and great respect for people,” said Mats Jansson, chairman of the board of directors. “As shown by our recent results, business performance continues to strengthen following our initiatives over recent years. This positions the company well for the future and provides a great platform for his successor.”

Read more: Delhaize Comps, Profits Rise in Q1

In a statement, Beckers said, “While serving this company and working with the Board of Directors, great colleagues and great teams has been the most rewarding job I can imagine, the board of directors and I agree that the moment is right to put in place a successor who will lead the group and its evolution into the future. Until then I remain fully committed to leading and supporting the company and its 158,000 associates.”

Delhaize America, the largest segment of Delhaize Group, operates the Food Lion, Hannaford Bros., and Sweetbay supermarket chains in the Eastern U.S.

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