The two biggest acquisitions of 2003 were the ones that never happened -- the sale by Safeway of Dominick's Finer Foods and the sale of Kings Super Markets by Marks & Spencer to Gristedes.
It took 11 months of frustration before Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway decided it ought to keep the 113-unit Chicago chain after a proposed buyer -- reportedly Supervalu, Minneapolis -- was unable to come to terms with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, whose reluctance to come to terms with Safeway last year was the reason Safeway opted to put the chain on the block in the first place.
The other sale that never happened involved a bid by New York-based Gristedes Foods to buy Kings Super Markets, Parsippany, N.J. When Gristedes was unable to raise sufficient funds, Marks & Spencer gave up four years of trying to sell the 27-store operation.
Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, outbid Kroger Co., Cincinnati, and agreed earlier this month to acquire seven Big Bear stores from Penn Traffic Co., Syracuse, N.Y., for $46.8 million. Kroger acquired a single Big Bear store in Springfield, Ohio, while several independents acquired other Big Bear units.
In another big deal, Belgium-based Delhaize Group, parent company of Delhaize America, Salisbury, N.C., acquired 43 stores in central and south Georgia and the Tallahassee, Fla., area from J.H. Harvey Co., Nashville, Ga., for $26.1 million in cash plus assumption of approximately $28 million in debt.
Among other deals:
Roundy's acquired 31 Rainbow Foods stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area from Dallas-based Fleming and 16 Kohl's Food Stores in the Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., areas from A&P, Montvale, N.J. A&P closed the rest of its Kohl's stores.
A&P sold nine Super Foodmart stores in northern New England to Stop & Shop and Big Y Supermarkets in February and eight others to GU Family Markets in March.
Eagle Food Centers, Milan, Ill., liquidated its store base, selling six stores in Illinois to Kroger; five in Illinois to Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons; three in Iowa to Hy-Vee Food Stores, Des Moines, Iowa; and various others to independents.
Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif., completed the acquisition from Fleming of 17 Food 4 Less stores in California in February and six more in May.
Albertsons acquired five stores from Fleming in March -- three Food 4 Less stores in Salt Lake City and two Rainbow Foods in Texas.
Kroger acquired 16 Food Town stores in Ohio from Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich., which exited its corporate-store base in Ohio and Michigan.
Nash Finch acquired five Sunshine Food Markets in Sioux Falls, S.D., and converted them to the Econofoods banner.
Smart & Final, Los Angeles, sold nine of 14 Miami-area stores, along with its Florida food-service operation, to Gordon Food Services, Grand Rapids, Mich., in August, which converted the stores to its GFS Marketplace format. The other five Smart & Final stores in Florida were closed.
Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass., acquired eight Butson's units in New England from GU Markets and reopened six under its own banner.
Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis, acquired two Mr. D's Fresh Food Markets in Indianapolis and converted them to O'Malia's Food Markets.
Sutton Place Gourmet, a 22-store chain based in Bethesda, Md., was acquired by Bear Stearns Merchant Banking in conjunction with Mark Ordan, founder of Fresh Fields.