OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fleming here said it plans to sell 42 supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Maryland and western New York.
Also, industry sources told SN that Fleming, which, as previously reported, is planning to move its headquarters, has compiled a short list of relocation possibilities: Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix.
A Fleming spokesman said the company, as previously reported, will announce the location of its new home sometime in October. He would not comment on the existence of a short list.
As for the supermarket sales, the company said it is looking for buyers for 23 Jubilee supermarkets in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, eight Jubilee and five Festival stores in Pennsylvania, and four Jubilee and two Festival stores in Maryland.
These stores comprise the entirety of the company's Buffalo and Pennsylvania retail groups.
"The plan is to sell stores to individual retailers that Fleming would continue serving as a wholesale supplier," according to a company spokesman.
He added the sale fit into Fleming's overall corporate strategy of "enhancing the competitiveness of independent retailers" and "improving Fleming's overall performance."
He also said the company has started talking to potential purchasers of the stores. "We've received a lot of interest," he said. "We're just beginning to talk with people."
Although many wholesalers are doing all they can to strengthen their position as retailers, Fleming's decision to sell some stores did not surprise analysts.
"This is very consistent with what Fleming has said it wanted to do," said Ted Bernstein, high-yield analyst with Grantchester Securities, New York. "They want to focus on retailing, but they are also attempting to optimize retail assets." The sale of these stores, he added, will help the company "deploy capital wisely into good stores."