July 30, 2009
SUPERVALU, the owner of Albertsons grocery stores, announced Tuesday that it was selling 36 of its Utah stores – almost all of them – to Associated Food Stores, a Utah-based company. That includes the stores in Summit County on Park Avenue and in Quarry Village across from Jeremy Ranch. "As you can imagine, the decision to sell any of our stores and exit a market is not taken lightly," the press release said. "That being said, we also have a responsibility to leverage opportunities that strengthen our business." Lilia Rodriguez, public affairs manager for Albertsons in the Intermountain West, said the decision was made to pay down debt and focus on the "greatest growth opportunities" for the company, which weren’t in Utah. Park City shoppers won’t notice any differences for several months. The sale is still pending and won’t be finalized until late fall. Changes won’t begin until then. Store employees "will have the opportunity to be interviewed for employment" with Associated Foods, Rodriguez said. Most Albertsons shoppers on Park Avenue last Wednesday said they didn’t know anything about Associated Foods. "I like Albertsons," said Linda Graven. "It was a pretty good store." "I just moved here three months ago and went to the Albertsons in San Diego," said Carmen Elliott. "I’m hoping (Associated Foods) won’t raise prices. It’s already getting more expensive to live up here." "I’ve lived here for 20 years. (Albertsons) was the only store in town when I moved here," said Val Poss. "I get my prescriptions here; I hate to see them leave I don’t know much about Associated Foods. I hope it doesn’t change much." "I’ve been going here 20 years," said Kathleen Rutherford. "I’m really not familiar with Associated Foods. I wonder about their products; I like Albertsons products." Bret Gallacher, Associated Foods spokesperson, said its private label is Western Family, which many in Summit County are familiar with. The company supplies the Park City Market, the Kamas Food Town, Days in Heber, the Morgan Jubilee and about 500 other grocery stores in Utah. The company also owns 22 of its own grocery stores, many of which people may be familiar with including Dick’s Market in Davis County, Dan’s in Salt Lake City, Lin’s in St. George and Macey’s in several counties. The soon-to-be-acquired 36 stores will be a new division shoppers will not be familiar with. The company will release the new name, logo and concept in a few weeks, Gallacher said. The Summit County stores will be part of this new entity. The company has no plans to close any of the stores. Gallacher said Associated Foods tries to distinguish itself with customer service and high-quality products in the produce, bakery and meat departments. All of the pharmacy and fuel centers currently operated by Albertsons will also be part of the transition and Rodriguez said customers will be fully educated on the changes once they are finalized. She also emphasized that Albertsons is not completely leaving Utah. A few stores in St. George, the regional distribution center and the Salt Lake City offices will stay open. No Albertsons employees were interviewed upon request of the company.