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Albertson's Taking Over the World?

Read today that the parent company of Albertson's is planning on buying the Safeway chain. I live in So. Cal. and while we have not had a Safeway since probably the 70's, we do have one of their subsidiaries, Von's. We also have Albertson's, they may have even started out here, but I know they went through several different corporate parents. I am a more than a little dishartened by this news. Close to my house, there are several Von's, and they are actually pretty nice. The one Albertson's in my neighborhood is a dump. I fear that Cerberus is not going to bring the Albertson's up to the level of Von's, but bring the Von's down to the Albertson's level. While this might rank up there with the takeover of Crimea, I fear that the consumers are going to lose out.

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  1. On the East Coast they have Shaw's and Star markets. Most all have been nicely updated and are very clean. On a good note, their prices are getting interesting and beginning to compete with a large local grocery chain who's prices have always beat all other stores in the region. We'll have to wait and see.

    1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolo...

      I'll wait and see. We're in NorCal and our Albertson's turned into SaveMart and is/was a separate company. We have a great Safeway here and a not so good one (due to small space).

      Kroger bought/merged with Fred Meyer a few years ago and I haven't noticed any changes when we visit the PNW. It's not necessarily bad. We'll see, won't we?

      1. It all veries by where you live and who is managing the store(s) near you. The Albertons near me is great. There are two Vons near by. One so-so and the other a dump. Where we moved from, the Albertsons was so-so. One of the Vons in that area was decent, the other i refused to set foot in. There, the store we used to go to a lot was Ralphs. Here, they are too far out of the way. While not a bad store, it's not worth the drive.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mike0989

          Our two Safeways are under the same regional management. And the lesser one isn't a "dump" by any means. It's just that they can't make the store any bigger so the selections in all departments are less, sometimes a lot less. Esp. in the meat area.

        2. The battle among grocery titans is fascinating stuff. There is a gentleman's agreement that no more than two will try to dominate any major market. Kroger (Cincinnati) wants more than 50% market share, and will fight to get it. And bigger is better, they will buy out higher priced adjacent leases to expand their stores. Albertsons (Boise) will settle for second place. Publix (Lakeland, FL) is more regional and fiercely territorial, and is known to take on any newcomers at any cost. Safeway (Pleasanton CA) went bankrupt in 1994, and its prime real estate was doled out many ways. Winn Dixie, another Southern, recently bought many of the Sweet Bay leases, and will be an obvious competitor to Publix.
          At the end of the day, the beneficiaries of all these antlers colliding for market control are you and me, the customers! At least until one gains a predatory monopoly.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            In the SF Bay Area, Albertson's had bought the Lucky chain (which was the #2 behind Safeway in this area) and a decade or so later, sold some of their Albertson's stores to SaveMart, which rebranded the ones in Northern California (and some other places) as Lucky's again. It's actually quite convoluted! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_St...

            I wish we had more/better supermarket options in the Bay Area -- I really don't like any of them (and I particularly hate the way Safeway stores are designed -- I find them oppressive). I have Wegman's envy!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              At Tahoe City, Luckys became Albertsons and then SaveMart. My first choice would be Raleys but that's in Incline Village which is just too far for it to be feasible for me.

              1. re: c oliver

                Right. I noticed the Lucky's near me that became Albertson's then reverted to Lucky's is now a SaveMart. It used to be my primary supermarket, but now I go in there maybe once a year (if that).

                Because of my weird shopping habits I'm often shocked at how expensive regular supermarkets are. I either shop at farmers' markets and specialty markets that are higher priced but for higher quality, or Trader Joe's, Costco and Grocery Outlet. I see no reason to shop at Safeway and the like, and when I do, I always leave thinking "oh right, there's a reason I don't shop there more often!"

            2. re: Veggo

              I guess for me it comes down to the more competition there is, the better. I am just glad that we still have a smaller regional chain, Sprouts and a really small chain, Major (only 2 stores). I guess its going to be like pharmacies, with the large ones buying out the mom and pop stores.

            3. In Chicago we are in a somewhat different situation. We used to have 2 major grocery chains, Jewel, which was owned by Albertsons, and Dominick's, owned by Safeway. At the end of 2013, Safeway decided to close all of its Dominick's stores. So, even before Cerberus bought Safeway, we had lost our Safeway-affiliated stores. Jewel has since bought some of the Dominick's locations and some other grocery chains have bought others.

              One thing that you should note is that the Cerberus company, which is buying Safeway, acquired the various Albertson stores in early 2013. Before that, Albertsons had different owners.

              Similar to Treb's experiences on the East Coast, the new owners of Albertsons have been upgrading the Jewel stores in Chicago and reducing prices, while also ditching the customer loyalty program. Among the reduced price items that are always available now are 1 gallon milk at $2.59 and bananas at 49 cents/lb. (Other changes I'm less crazy about -- e.g., they rearranged the entire store,) And, like Treb, some of the reduced pricing seems to be directed at a local grocer that regularly has good pricing. For awhile it seemed like the 2 were in a price war on Hellman's mayonnaise, with the price getting as low as $2.99. It now seems to have stabilized at both stores at $3.99, which is still below it's prior "regular" pricing.

              I can't speak to your local Vons being a "dump" but it may be that the new owners have or will be upgrading it too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: masha

                When I lived in Santa Barbara in the '80s Von's was definitely the more upscale store. Smith's was the more down-market option.

                1. re: masha

                  The one change I'll applaud Albertsons for, is going to Choice beef across the board. No more Select.

                2. Some Albertson's are fantastic, some are dumps. Some Safeways are fantastic, some are dumps.

                  I won't lose any sleep over this.

                  1. I really hope they don't change my Safeway. I live in Phoenix and there are Safeway stores everywhere, but the one near me is quite nice. I'd be bummed if it took a downturn.

                    1. I used to work for Albertson's and could never figure out exactly what was their strategy or business model. I think they have found a way to make money by losing money. One customer described them as a big convenience store due to their prices.

                      In Austin, they closed about 12 stores, all in the time period of a month or two. They closed stores in Dallas, Bryan, TX, New Braunfels and sold their Kerrville store ( the one I worked in) to an HEB ( a Texas chain).

                      They are typically expensive and poorly run and I think that flows from the top.

                      My expression re: Albertson's is that there are two kinds of Alberetson's: those that are closed and those that are gonna' be closed.

                      (BTW, I worked as a pharmacist and I will give them credit for paying me and the techs well)

                      1. Apropos perhaps of nothing, Cerberus was the nine-headed dog guarding Hell. Name picked at random? I suspect not …

                        When we first moved from Nashville to SoCal, I found the Von's (Safeway) checkers to be attentive and polite, while the Ralphs (Kroger) ones were often too busy with their own interpersonal conversations to attend to mere customers, much like the Kroger kids back in Tennessee. For some reason the two corporate cultures seem to have swapped places, especially since that last big strike, and Ralphs/Kroger is now my go-to store, aside from Trader Joe's. I'll be interested to see what happens next with Von's.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Cereberus is an investment manager.
                          they buy, borrow against, and manipulate productive corporate entities so that they can extract money from the entities to beneifit themselves. if the entity dies as a result of the financial hemorrhage, so be it.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            That is the essence of the birth, life, and death of capitalism. It sounds spooky, but it is the same process we the people experience. Eerie parallels.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              That may be but so far, since Cerberus acquired Albertson stores about one year ago, the changes they have made in my local Jewel have been, on balance, positive.

                          2. We have both Albertson's and Safeway here. Safeway has the clearly more upscale appearance, foods and services. I only rarely shop in a chain store anyway but Safeway has decent organic products at a good price. It also has two large isles of health food items, nice looking produce and meats.I hope that doesn't change. Our Albertson's has always been dirty and filled with processed crap and sad produce. Very different philosophy for selling food.

                            1. I'm in western Canada. A chain called Sobey's purchased the Safeways here in the early fall. They announced that they will decide what to do with the stores and manufacturing facilities by the end of Spring. It sounds like some will be sold, some shut down and some turned into Sobey's. I wonder if this has been on the horizon for some time now because the Safeway stores have slowly been turning into dumps over the past few years.

                              1. I shop at Safeway, Costco, TJ, and 99 Ranch. When the new Whole Foods open near our house, I'll shop there too. The "world" has not been taken over by anyone. The grocery biz is highly competitive.