Ahold boss Cees van der Hoeven has once again signalled his ambition to buy into the UK ­ in spite of the highly competitive state of the market. Speaking at a conference organised by Schroder Salomon Smith Barney, he said Ahold was "not as big as we want to be" in Europe. Van der Hoeven stressed that an acquisition in France, Germany or the UK was not an immediate priority. But he added: "It's clearly a wish of our company to make a move into one of the three major markets." The Ahold executive explained that such a deal would be "helpful" in boosting the company's global presence. But van der Hoeven also made it clear that of the three markets, Ahold had "no real ambition" to go into Germany. And he warned: "Hopefully we will be able to pull it off. But I would need to be absolutely sure that the companies involved were totally aligned in vision and culture and totally committed to driving their businesses. "If I am not absolutely sure, I will not do it." Ahold is already strengthening its presence elsewhere in Europe, particularly in Spain where the European Commission this week approved the acquisition of Spanish group Superdiplo. Van der Hoeven said: "That's not the last move we expect to make in Spain. There are more acquisitions to come." But he also made it clear that Ahold's ambition was to build critical mass across the region. And building a strong business on what he called the "fringes of Europe" ­ Scandinavia, central Europe and the Mediterranean ­ was only the beginning. {{NEWS }}