Ahold, the Dutch supermarket group, is selling its Spanish retail assets to private equity firm Permira for E685m (£470m).

Ahold has approximately 600 outlets on the Spainish mainland and the Canary Islands, which include the HiperSol and Netto brands, and totalled net sales of approximately E2bn in 2003.

The sale is part of a E2.5bn cash-raising exercise to reduce Ahold’s debt and this is the first acquisition for Permira in Spain.

“This divestment is part of our ‘Road to Recovery’ strategy to optimise our portfolio and strengthen our financial position,” commented Anders Moberg, Ahold president and ceo.

Separately, Ahold has announced Andrew Parkinson as president of its wholly-owned subsidiary Peapod, the US Internet grocer.

Parkinson will replace former president and ceo Marc van Gelder.

“Ahold intends to grow its online grocery business and offer customers another convenient way to shop,” commented Bill Grize, president and ceo of Ahold US Retail.

He also noted that Peapod opened four new markets in 2004.