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Albertsons may buy Whole Foods – report

Boise-based Albertsons Companies is rumored to be considering a takeover bid for natural grocer Whole Foods. If the company follows its “playbook” for integrations used for past acquisitions (including Safeway), it would likely mean the combined company would continue to be headquartered in Boise.

Whole Foods has revenue of $12.9 billion – about a fifth as much as Albertsons’ estimated $58.7 billion.

Albertsons was founded in Boise in 1939. A small passel of stores remained headquartered in the City of Trees when the bulk of the company was sold off to Supervalu and CVS. After Supervalu failed to do much with its chunk of the company, the smaller Boise-based Albertsons division bought them. It then swallowed the larger Safeway – and now could be considering a purchase of Whole Foods. As of January, Albertons reported it owned 2,237 stores. Whole Foods would add another 431 stores. That total of nearly 2,700 would put it within striking distance of category leader Kroger (owner of Fred Meyer) in terms of number of stores owned.

BoiseDev reported last August that Albertsons was considering a “meaningful” purchase of additional stores – which Whole Foods would count in that category.

We also noted last week how the company is putting additional focus on the Boise market.

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Albertsons & Safeway: a timeline

BoiseDev.com research

1915 –Skaggs Cash Store in American Falls, Idaho by MB Skaggs

1926 –Skaggs, Safeway merge – combined company takes Safeway name

1939 –Albertsons founded in Boise by Joe Albertson, a former Safeway manager – in partnership with LS Skaggs, MB’s brother

1969 –Albertsons & Skaggs Drug Centers (started by LS Skaggs) form joint venture for grocery/drug store concept

1977 –Albertsons & Skaggs Drug Centers part ways amicably

1978 –Skaggs & American Stores merge, taking the American Stores name

1999 –Albertsons buys American Stores, and briefly becomes nation’s largest grocer

2001 –Larry Johnston hired as Albertsons CEO after career at GE. Immediately cuts staff by 20%, closes hundreds of stores and pulls out of markets like Houston & New Orleans

2006 –After Johnston’s efforts fail, a diminished Albertsons is split in three pieces and sold off:Standalone drug stores went to CVS,most grocery stores sold to Supervalu, and a small group of so-called “underperforming” stores sold to Cerberus Capital Mgmt.

2013 –After sputtering, Supervalu sells most of its stores to the Cerberus group

2015 –Newly reunited Albertsons chain completes purchase of the larger Safeway – making it the nation’s second-largest grocer

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Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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