The Edmond Sun

Business

June 20, 2007

Albertsons to become Williams Discount Foods

EDMOND — Well-known grocery chain Albertsons LLC announced Tuesday that it intends to pull out of the Oklahoma marketplace.

As a result, 23 Albertsons stores in Oklahoma will be sold to four Associated Wholesale Grocers member retailers, and three stores in the state will close later this summer.

Homeland Inc., based in Edmond, purchased seven stores in Oklahoma City, Norman, Bethany and Muskogee.

Edmond’s Albertsons store, at 1151 N. Bryant Ave., was sold to Williams Discount Foods, which will be the store’s new name.

The chain is known by its slogan, “Your Hometown Store.”

“The excellent news is that all our buyers assured us that most, if not all, associates will be offered jobs (under the new ownership),” said Jennifer Vroman, spokeswoman for Albertsons.

Jeff Williams of Williams Discount Foods said, “The addition of these new stores will provide opportunities for our employees.

“There has never been a better time to work for Williams Discount Foods than today — we have an exciting future ahead of us.”

Other purchasers in the transaction are Tahlequah-based Reasor’s Inc. and RPCS Inc., based in Springfield, Mo.

Kelly Epperson, promotions manager for Homeland, said the metro-area stores purchased by Homeland will see minimal changes.

“We will do our very best not to change anything but the name,” she said. “As a competitor, we always had great respect for the Albertson’s chain. We feel that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”

The asset sales are expected to close beginning in mid-July, according to a company press release.

AWG also is acquiring Albertsons’ 1.1 million-square-foot distribution facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

Pharmacies at the stores will continue operating under the new owners, with no changes to customer service, Vroman said.

AWG, headquartered in Kansas City, Kan., is a $5 billion retailer-owned wholesale cooperative supplying food retailers in 23 states.

Financing for the transaction was done by SpiritBank, a privately owned $1 billion Oklahoma bank.

(Alice Collinsworth may be reached via e-mail at acollinsworth@edmondsun.com.)

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