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Retail Trends

Power Players Supermarkets

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Nearly all the big names in retail sell groceries, so it’s not surprising that the past year has seen much contraction amongst even the largest traditional supermarket chains. SUPERVALU pulled back into being a food distributor that also runs a few chains in and around its home territory in the Upper Midwest. Subsidiaries including Shaw’s, Acme, Jewel and Albertsons were sold to Cerberus Capital Management earlier this year for $100 million plus the assumption of $3.2 billion in debt. Among the businesses it is retaining is the Save-A-Lot limited assortment operation. Under pressure from Wal-Mart and Publix, Harris-Teeter late last year unveiled a concept called 201 Central. It’s built around providing more services, like an in-store wine consultant, and more specialty goods including an expanded selection of cheese, international foods and even cigars. Still, takeover rumors persist, with the latest talk centering on private equity funds as potential buyers. Another private equity firm, Lone Star Funds, is behind the Bi-Lo acquisition of Delhaize America banners Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s. The industry contraction can also be heard all the way across the Atlantic, now that British supermarket leader Tesco has decided to shut down its 200-store Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market operation in California, Nevada and Arizona.