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Embattled Peapod moves into southern New England

The online grocer, which just a few months ago had one foot in the grave, plans to offer Web shopping and delivery services in southern Connecticut.

    Online grocer Peapod, which just a few months ago had one foot in the grave, announced today it will offer Web shopping and delivery services in southern Connecticut.

    International food provider Royal Ahold, which resuscitated Chicago-based Peapod with a $73 million investment, also played a part in the online grocer's expansion. Peapod will work with Royal Ahold's Stop & Shop, a New England supermarket chain, in the Connecticut market.

    The expansion would have been impossible just a few months ago, when Peapod saw its then-chief executive, Bill Malloy, resign citing mental exhaustion, which resulted in a group of much-needed investors pulling their support. Soon after Royal Ahold took a 51 percent stake in the struggling grocer, it appointed Stop & Shop executive Marc Van Gelder as Peapod's top boss.

    "The Connecticut service model leverages the skills and resources of both companies to provide the best possible service to consumers while realizing business efficiencies," Van Gelder said. "It is clicks-and-mortar in action."

    Royal Ahold has annualized sales approaching $50 billion, operating over 7,000 stores across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

    Stop & Shop operates 204 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. With 1999 sales of $6.7 billion, the company employs 41,000 associates.