June 20, 2014 3:34 pm

Meet the guy who wants you buying groceries from Walmart

Walmart said Friday Dirk Van den Berghe, a European grocery exec, is the new Canadian CEO.

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If there were any lingering doubts about Walmart’s commitment to selling you more food, they were put to bed Friday.

The world’s largest retailer said it has hired European grocery exec Dirk Van den Berghe to head up its Canadian operations, beginning on Aug. 1.

Van den Berghe has three decades of experience in the grocery and retail business, most recently as a senior executive for Delhaize Group SA, a $30-billion supermarket giant based in Belgium with operations across Europe.

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Global News

Van den Berghe is replacing Shelley Broader as the top Walmart executive in Canada. Broader was promoted earlier this year to oversee Walmart’s operations outside the U.S.

The incoming Canadian head’s “vast experience will allow us to strengthen our growing food business in Canada,” Broader said in a statement sent to Global News.

READ MORE: Walmart is winning more grocery business in Canada

In February, Walmart said it will spend roughly half a billion dollars to open new stores, expand existing locations and light a fire under its burgeoning e-commerce strategy to sell more items to Canadians through the Internet.

But the main aim of the expansion efforts – which the company said at the time would generate thousands of new jobs – is for Walmart to win a bigger cut of your weekly grocery budget.

READ MORE: Walmart laying off some store managers 

Van den Berghe holds a Ph.D in Economics from Sofia University in Bulgaria and speaks seven languages including English, French and Dutch, Walmart said.

Foreign influence

Still, while the new Walmart head has plenty of experience under his belt internationally, that doesn’t automatically mean success in Canada.

Look no further than Target.

READ MORE: Target’s biggest headache in Canada? Bare shelves 

The Walmart rival’s now infamous launch into Canada last year has gone through plenty of hiccups, some of which are were blamed on the retail giant’s lack of Canadian input at the executive level.

Experts say the chic-for-cheap retailer failed to adjust its game plan to the Canadian landscape – believing it could Xerox its U.S. template for store plans and distribution models.

The Minneapolis-based company ousted the American exec heading up the domestic chain last month and is currently looking to put in place a Canadian-born retailing expert to help Target restore its footing north of the 49th parallel.

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