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Albertsons to Cut Three Colorado Stores

BOISE, Idaho -- Albertsons Inc. plans to shutter at least three Colorado grocery stores next month, sparking questions of whether the move signals the beginning of the end for the retailer's presence in the state.

According to published reports, Albertsons notified United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 by letter Friday that it would not renew leases on union stores in Aurora and Jefferson County, and would close them on Nov. 1, cutting 200 jobs. The grocer also notified workers Friday that it plans to close a nonunion store in Brighton on the same day.

The retailer did not return PG calls by press time.

During a conference call last month, Albertsons c.e.o. Larry Johnston suggested that management's strategy might be to trim off underperforming parts of the whole, rather than to sell the company outright. "We are preparing to exit underperforming markets in order to monetize their embedded real estate and business value for shareowners," Johnston said during the September conference call. "This will enable us to focus on a strong and growing set of core assets that will form a smaller yet more profitable best-in-class company with leading market positions and a very exciting future."

The resulting company, he said, would be smaller, but more profitable. Speculation about a possible exit from Colorado, meanwhile, has flown since the company closed its 21 Omaha stores to exit that market last year, saying it wouldn't stay in markets where it couldn't be No. 1 or No. 2. Albertsons is fourth in Colorado market share, behind King Soopers, Safeway, and Wal-Mart.
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