Supervalu acquires Albertson's grocery chain

| 1/24/2006

Drivers who have had lumping issues with Supervalu in the past may want to keep an eye on the future, as the grocery chain has completed a deal that will nearly double it’s size and reach in the U.S.

Based in Eden Prairie, MN, Supervalu – along with two other companies – has acquired Albertsons Inc., a grocery chain based in Boise, ID. The move will add 1,124 stores and 19 distribution centers to Supervalu’s stable, according to a press release.

The Packer, a produce industry newspaper, reported that the deal makes Supervalu the second-largest supermarket retailer in the U.S., with a total of 2,656 stores and more than 70 distribution centers nationwide.

Supervalu will now operate stores under the names of Albertsons, Acme Markets, Bristol Farms, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Star Markets in a number of markets, including Chicago, New England, the Northwest and California.

The company will continue to operate its previous holdings under the names of Supervalu, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Save-a-lot and Shop ‘n’ Save.

As part of the overall deal, another group, Cerberus Capital Management LP, acquired 655 Albertsons and Super Saver stores in the Southwest, Texas, Florida, the Rocky Mountains and Northern California. Those stores will not be owned or operated by Supervalu. The remainder of Albertsons’ assets, including 700 stand-alone Sav-On and Osco drug stores in the Midwest, southern California and the Southwest, went to CVS Corp.

In December, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit against Supervalu, charging that the retail giant employed unfair and illegal lumping practices at its loading docks.

The lawsuit alleges that Supervalu’s policies violate a federal law that states that receivers must pay the costs of unloading interstate freight if they require truckers to be assisted in the unloading process. The law also prohibits anyone from coercing interstate truckers into paying people to unload the freight they are hauling.

Two OOIDA members named as plaintiffs in the suit claim that Supervalu instituted new policies in March 2005 requiring that drivers have insurance coverage in excess of federal requirements and then required drivers without that coverage to accept and pay for assistance in unloading their trucks.

It is not known whether Supervalu will extend this policy to its new acquisitions.

-- Terry Scruton, senior writer