No immediate changes seen after sale of Albertsons in Oklahoma

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 12:07 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The sale of Albertsons Inc. will lead to no immediate changes in operations in Oklahoma, where the grocery chain has 31 stores and a Ponca City distribution center, a spokeswoman for the grocery chain said.

Albertsons announced Monday its sale to supermarket chain SuperValu Inc., drugstore chain CVS Corp. and other buyers in a $17.4 billion deal. Oklahoma stores were among those acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management LP of New York.

Albertsons spokeswoman Shannon Bennett said the deal will close in four to five months. In the meantime, the Oklahoma properties, which empoy about 3,500, will continue operations as is.

"Cerberus' business is taking underperforming assets and making them perform," said Richard Auletta, spokesman for Cerberus Capital Management. "They have a pretty good track record of doing that, and that's the commitment with Albertsons. Our plans are to operate the stores under the Albertsons name.

"We will maintain the same benefits plans and programs for all employees."

In Oklahoma, Albertsons is ranked second in the grocery market by industry tracker the Shelby Report, but the grocer has just 8 percent of the market share against Wal-Mart's 49 percent.

Steve Lawrence, general manager of Oklahoma City-based Buy for Less stores, said it's too early to tell how this will change the Oklahoma grocery market.

"It's not good news or bad. I don't see it being negative, but how positive it will be remains to be seen in three to six months," he said.