SupervaluAlbertsons Merger Plan, Year 2: Remodel Stores, Reduce Debt

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SupervaluAlbertsons Merger Plan, Year 2: Remodel Stores, Reduce Debt

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Supervalu Inc. will focus on remodeling stores, offering local promotions, and reducing debt during the second year of its integration the Albertsons stores into its operations, said chief executive Jeff Noddle at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference in New York.

Noting that the process of absorbing the grocery industry biggest merger is “a marathon and not a sprint,” Noddle told analysts he is pleased with his firm’s progress in the first year following Supervalu’s 2006 acquisition of 1,100 Albertsons stores.

After the deal vaulted the former wholesale distributor to the position of third-largest supermarket operator in the nation, Supervalu has been busy with key initiatives such as building programs for retail growth, implementing synergies, and maintaining fiscal discipline, Noddle said during the presentation.

The c.e.o. said Supervalu would now focus on reducing its debt by $400 million, in a bid to return to an investment-grade credit rating in the future. At the same, it will pursue a $1.2 billion spending plan, partly for remodeling stores, with the goal of getting it store portfolio to the point where 80 percent of units are new or newly remodeled in the last seven years.

Noddle also reiterated the ongoing effects on is company’s performance of the current difficult consumer environment, spurred by high gas prices and a weaker housing market, which finds some consumers trading down and consolidating shopping trips.