Save Mart Buys NoCal Division from Albertson's LLC

MODESTO, Calif. -- Regional independent Save Mart Supermarkets here said yesterday it agreed to acquire Albertson's LLC's Northern California Division, which includes 132 Albertson's stores in Northern California and northern Nevada, the Roseville and Vacaville distribution centers, and a division office in Dublin, Calif.

The two parties to the deal did not disclose terms.

"The offer from Save Mart was completely unsolicited," Christine Wilcox, Albertson's LLC spokesperson told Progressive Grocer. "We have been told by Save Mart that they pursued our operation because is a good geographic complement to their planned market expansion. After working through the details of their proposal we came to realize that this transaction is the right thing to do for the business and for the associates in California and Nevada."

The Albertsons' purchase will double the size of the chain to 256 stores and 20,000 associates. Save Mart said it will begin operating its new stores by end of February 2007.

Currently, Save Mart operates 124 stores, 80 of which are full service supermarkets with 75 operating under the banner Save Mart Supermarkets and five under the S-Mart foods banner. Save Mart's 44 price-impact stores operate under the Food Maxx banner.

"Our people are dedicated to service, quality and operational efficiency, which kept us poised for growth," said Bob Piccinini, chairman and c.e.o. "The hard work and increased focus to service standards by the Albertson's team is to be commended and will complement the combined business."

Piccinini added: "It is my hope and expectation that Donna Robbins will continue to be a part of the new organization going forward with minimal disruption to current operations. Save Mart will embrace and learn from the current operations of these new stores, implementing the best practices of both organizations and making our entire chain of stores a superior shopping experience for all our valued customers."

Spearheading the transfer and continued operations of the Albertson's stores will be Steve Junqueiro, Save Mart's v.p. of operations with oversight from Save Mart president and c.o.o. Bob Spengler.

For its part, Albertson's LLC said it will continue to operate about 390 stores after the transaction is closed.

"It is only through the proven talent and hard work of [the Northern California] division that such a strong company would make an unsolicited offer to acquire our entire regional operation," said Bob Miller, c.e.o. of Albertson's LLC. "Albertson's LLC remains committed to making our stores the neighborhood supermarket of choice in our Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Florida divisions."

Albertsons noted that the purchase was unsolicited, and that it would be inappropriate to speculate about the future of the remaining Albertson's LLC stores. "The company is not currently marketing any of its other divisions," said Wilcox. "In fact, they weren't even marketing the Northern California division--Save Mart came to us about acquiring it."

Based on its conversations with Save Mart, Albertsons said it doesn't anticipate significant lay-offs as a result of the transaction, "but will leave it to Save Mart to communicate its plans."
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