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Save A Lot Completes Wholesale Model Transition

Discounter sold nearly 300 corporate-operated locations to retail partners on its way to new financial trajectory
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Save A Lot Completes Wholesale Model Transition
Save A Lot has completed its ongoing relicensing program and the transition to a pure-play wholesale model.

It’s been more than a year since Save A Lot started its journey to a pure-play wholesale model. After selling nearly 300 corporate-operated locations to retail partners that will continue to operate the stores under the Save A Lot brand, the discount grocery chain has completed its ongoing relicensing program and wholesale model transition.

With approximately 900 stores in 32 states, Save A Lot believes that operating a pure-play wholesale model will provide retail partners with the flexibility necessary to respond to the needs of the local communities they serve. Owners can customize their assortments to cater to the tastes and preferences of their individual customers. Through an emphasis on serving and supporting its retail partners, Save A Lot said that it has built a sustainable, high-growth and community-focused business.

Becoming a wholesaler was an important step in Save A Lot’s mission to lead as the brand of choice for value-oriented consumers, putting the company on an entirely new financial trajectory,” said Mark Hutchens, EVP and CFO. “Since its inception, Save A Lot has filled an important need as an affordable high-quality hometown grocer in each community it serves. This relicensing program positions our company to better serve our retail partners as they support their customers and communities. We’ve entered 2022 with strong momentum and improved financials that will help fuel the growth of the business in the years ahead.”

In total, the company completed 34 transactions by selling corporate-operated locations outside of St. Louis to local operating groups. Operators taking ownership include a number of existing Save A Lot retailers such as Fresh Encounter Inc., the Janes Group, Leevers Supermarkets Inc., and Save Philly Stores, which added 51, 18, 17 and 14 stores to their portfolios, respectively. Additionally, Save A Lot welcomed 15 new ownership groups, including Yellow Banana LLC, a portfolio company of 127 Wall Holdings LLC, which purchased 38 stores across five states, and Ascend Grocery LLC, which purchased 33 locations in Florida. Save a Lot is retaining 18 stores in its home market of St. Louis as a test market for innovations and programs.

The company’s relicensing effort builds on its ongoing initiative to modernize, working with its independent license owners to remodel all stores by 2024. According to Save A Lot, the new store design reflects the contemporary evolution of the brand with a lighter, brighter and easier-to-shop footprint that includes new décor and an enhanced shopping environment. Retail partners completed remodels of 200 Save A Lot stores in 2021.

The wholesaler transition also incorporates a series of business and brand development efforts by the company. This includes the launch of Save A Lot’s multitiered marketing and branding campaign, Like, A Lot A Lot. The campaign featured a music video starring rising singers and hip-hop artists Tamara Bubble, Leon Evans and Sarai, that has received more than 6 million views on YouTube and other social media platforms. Save A Lot’s logo also got a refresh, along with packaging for more than 55 private label brands, adding vivid color and personality across all channels.

The company's transition completion also dovetails with the recent appointment of new CEO Leon Bergmann, who joins Save A Lot on Feb. 21. Bergmann was previously CEO of Detroit-based Harvest Sherwood Food Distributors.

“Incoming CEO Leon Bergmann brings significant wholesale and grocery experience that is ideally suited to lead this model,” said Justin Shaw, chairman of the board. “The board and management team are excited for this next chapter of growth for the Save A Lot business and to support the entrepreneurial ambitions of all our dedicated retail partners.”

Save A Lot has approximately 900 stores in 32 states, and 14 wholesale distribution centers. The Earth City, Mo.-based company is No. 57 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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