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BOISE, Idaho - Dismissing speculation among some industry observers that Albertsons LLC here will follow the divestment of its Northern California division with further store sales, c.e.o. Bob Miller told Progressive Grocer yesterday that there are "no other ongoing discussions about selling more stores."
Miller said initial discussions over a deal to sell the Northern California division to regional operator Save Mart Supermarkets, took place between himself and Save Mart's c.e.o. Bob Piccinini even before Albertsons LLC officially came into being. The NoCal division transaction was announced this past Monday.
"Bob [Piccinini] and I go back more than 20 years, when we sat on the Western Association of Food Chains board together," said Miller. "As we were putting together the new company last year, he broached the subject, and in following conversations determined it was a good move for both companies."
For his part, Piccinini said the deal was the perfect way for Save Mart to grow. "We had the ability - in terms of money, technology, and people - to grow faster than we were able to," Piccinini told Progressive Grocer, because "new stores are hard to come by in this market. The Northern California division of Albertsons LLC had all of the necessary components we were looking for. So when Albertsons put itself on the market, we threw our hat in the ring to see what we could make of it."
As for Albertsons LLC's remaining markets, Miller stressed that he has no plans to sell any more stores; on the contrary, his focus is on further developing the business. Although he wouldn't disclose specifics, Miller said "sales are improving tremendously, and we are taking the steps needed to get the chain where it needs to be."
Miller conceded, however, that any future sale could not be completely ruled out. "I don't care who you are, for the right price, you'll take the sale," he said.
-- Joseph Tarnowski