Albertsons Companies announced Wednesday it would buy up 27 new store locations in the mid-Atlantic region. It also announced a new cash dividend payment for stockholders.
Kings & Balducci’s in the fold
The stores, which carry the Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lover’s Markets, will fold into Albertsons’ Acme Markets division. The stores will keep their current branding – a practice Albertsons used in other markets across the country. The Kings and Balducci’s brands will give Albertsons more than 20 different store banners in the US.
Our company has a history of managing small, differentiated chains that offer an elevated experience, like Andronicos and Haggens in the western U.S.,” Albertsons Companies’ Mid-Atlantic President Jim Perkins said. “When we leverage their team’s expertise and continue to deliver what their customers want, these stores can thrive. We are excited to add these two premium, gourmet banners to our east coast operations.”
Albertsons will pay $96.4 million for the package of stories. The deal will need approval from the Federal Trade Commission.
The stores give Albertsons an expanded presence in New Jersey, as well as neighboring states.
KB US Holdings, which operated the two chains, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer. It operated a total of 35 stores under the two brands before entering bankruptcy. An Albertsons spokesperson referred a question on the fate of the other stores to Kings. A request was not immediately returned.
The company, which went public this summer on the New York Stock Exchange, separately announced it would pay a dividend to shareholders.
The cash payment of ten cents per share will be paid to stockholders as of October 26th. Albertsons said its “strong and consistent levels of free cash flow” allow it to pay out the dividend.
The company’s stock fell after debuting on Wall Street in June. It hit the market at $16 per share, before bottoming out at $13.06 a share in September. The stock started to rebound and stood at $14.27 a share at the close of the trading day Wednesday.
Boise-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 stores and ranks as the second largest pureplay supermarket company in the US.
The twists and turns of Albertsons
Albertsons’ history gets a bit complicated at times. Joe Albertson founded the chain in Boise in 1939 – and it slowly, steadily grew over the years. In 1999, the company bought Utah-based American Stores and for a time grew to the largest grocer in the nation.
In 2001, Larry Johnston took over as CEO and Chairman. After five tumultuous years, the company sold itself off in 2006. Standalone drugstores went to CVS and rebranded. The bulk of the grocery stores, 1,124, including those in Idaho, were sold to Supervalu. A new company was formed to take over 661 so-called “underperforming” Albertsons stores, led by a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital. The Cerberus stores were based in Boise – despite not owning the locations here.
In 2013, after Supervalu struggled with the stores it bought, it sold them to the Cerberus-led company – reassembling the bulk of the grocery company. Headquarters for the company remained in Boise – and now included oversight of the Boise-area stores.
In 2014, Albertsons purchased Safeway – and in the years since worked to transition to many of Safeway’s back office functionality.