The industry continued to consolidate in 2001, although the size of the deals was generally smaller than in prior years.
In one of the year's few big transactions, Netherlands-based Ahold added to its U.S. supermarket stable when it acquired Bruno's Supermarkets, Birmingham, Ala. -- its first retail acquisition since its 1998 purchase of Giant Food, Landover, Md. The acquisition was expected to enable Ahold to extend its penetration in the South beyond the Carolinas and into Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.
In addition, Ahold extended its food-service operations into the Midwest and West with the acquisition of Alliant Foodservice, Deerfield, Ill.
Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, also set a course to expand its operations when it acquired three Atlanta-based stores and related support facilities from Harry's Farmers Market, Roswell, Ga., which it planned to use as a base from which to expand across the South, with up to 50 stores contemplated in the next few years. The company also said it would use the intellectual capital acquired from Harry's to develop a new hybrid that could be expanded nationwide.
Fleming, Dallas, was an active consolidator this year, selling 40 units of Phoenix-based Abco Desert Markets to Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., and a variety of IGA operators; selling Baker's Supermarkets, a 16-unit chain based in Omaha, Neb., to Kroger; and acquiring 36 stores from Furr's Supermarkets, Albuquerque, N.M.; Furr's closed the balance of its stores and ceased operations.
In other consolidation activity:
Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis, acquired O'Malia Food Markets, an eight-store chain based in Carmel, Ind., and Carter's Supermarkets, a two-store operation based in Tipton, Ind. The chain also disclosed plans to sell the assets of its convenience-store distribution business to McLane Co., Temple, Texas, so it could focus on its core retailing businesses.
Fresh Brands, Sheboygan, Wis. -- a new holding company formed by Schultz Sav-O Stores to make acquisitions -- bought the eight units of Dick's Supermarkets from Brodbeck Enterprises, Platteville, Wis.
Roundy's, Pewaukee, Wis., acquired Copps Corp., Stevens Point, Wis.
Acme Markets of Virginia, Tazewell, Va., sold the assets of its 11 stores to Piedmont Center Properties Corp., Raleigh, N.C., a limited partnership controlled by a real-estate company that operates Piggly Wiggly stores in North Carolina and Save-A-Lot stores in Virginia and Ohio.
Shurfine International, Northlake, Ill., a manufacturer and distributor of private-label goods, agreed to merge into Topco Associates, Skokie, Ill., a private-label sales and marketing cooperative.
Several companies decided to reduce their store counts during the year, including the following:
Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, which said it would restructure its operation by closing 165 underperforming stores, although it said it did not contemplate pulling out of any market areas.
A&P, Montvale, N.J., which disclosed plans to close 39 stores by March, including an exit from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
Harris Teeter, Mathews, N.C., a division of Ruddick Corp., Charlotte, N.C., which sold 27 stores in noncore markets that it said were not generating acceptable levels of profitability. The stores were sold to Kroger Co., Cincinnati; Bi-Lo, an Ahold subsidiary based in Mauldin, S.C., and Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., Charleston, S.C.
Homeland Holdings, Oklahoma City, which closed eight stores early in the year and disclosed plans to close or sell 26 more earlier this month as part of a Chapter 11 restructuring.
Supervalu, Minneapolis, which closed 30 underperforming stores, including 19 Laneco stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and 11 Cub Foods locations in central Indiana.
Delhaize Group, Brussels, Belgium, which shut down Super Discount Markets, an Atlanta-based subsidiary that operated 19 Cub stores and 10 Save-A-Lot units. Delhaize America owned 60% of SDM and Supervalu controlled the other 40%.
Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis, which sold 20 corporate Sun Mart IGA stores in the Southeast so it could focus its retail strategies in the Upper Midwest. Nash Finch also acquired 14 stores from U Save Foods, Omaha, Neb., and converted them to the Sun Mart banner.
In deals announced in 2000 but not consummated until this year:
Safeway completed the acquisition of Genuardi's Family Markets, Norristown, Pa., in addition to acquiring 11 Abco stores from Fleming.
C&S Wholesale Grocers, Brattleboro, Vt., acquired 185 stores from Grand Union, keeping 12 locations, closing a handful of others and selling the rest to various Northeast operators, including Tops Markets, Williamsville, N.Y.; Stop & Shop Co., Quincy, Mass.; Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass.; Pathmark Stores, Carteret, N.J.; Hannaford Bros. Co., Scarborough, Maine; and a variety of independent supermarket and non-supermarket operators.
Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich., acquired the 10-store Prevo's Family Markets, also of Grand Rapids.
Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla., rebannered 48 units of Jitney-Jungle Stores of America in Mississippi and nine units of Gooding's Supermarkets in Florida that it acquired in 2000; and Shaw's converted 44 Star Markets it acquired in 1998 to the Shaw's banner.
In a possible preview of consolidation activity in 2002, both D'Agostino Supermarkets, Larchmont, N.Y., and Red Apple Group, New York, expressed interest in acquiring the 25 units of Kings Super Markets, West Caldwell, N.J., from Marks & Spencer, the British-based company that indicated an interest in selling early in the year.