Sale of Acme Markets, sister chains completed

An Acme in Bryn Mawr. Some see new investment ahead in the 112 Acmes.
An Acme in Bryn Mawr. Some see new investment ahead in the 112 Acmes. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 23, 2013

Acme Markets' corporate parent, Supervalu Inc., completed the sale Thursday of five grocery chains, including Malvern-based Acme, to a group of private-equity firms and real estate investors.

The price was $100 million and the assumption of $3.2 billion in debt. Operations of Acme, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, and Star Market stores and related in-store pharmacies were to transfer at 3:01 a.m. Friday to AB Acquisition L.L.C., an affiliate of an investor consortium, former Chrysler Corp. owner Cerberus Capital Management L.P.

Investors include Philadelphia-based Lubert-Adler Partners as well as Kimco Realty Corp., Klaff Realty L.P., and Schottenstein Real Estate Group.

Acme has 112 stores and 10,000 employees, mostly in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a few stores in Delaware and Maryland.

Albertsons L.L.C., an AB Acquisition subsidiary, will run all 877 stores, including the Acmes and those of Boston-based Shaw's and Chicago-based Jewel.

"My guess is the new owners are going to put money into stores, work on pricing, beef up the Acme brand," said Jonathan Feeney, managing director at Janney Montgomery Scott L.L.C. in Philadelphia. "The main thing they need to deliver is consistency across the brand."

In recent years, Acme has closed stores, laid off hundreds of unionized clerks, and lost market share to Giant, ShopRite, Walmart, and others.

Albertsons L.L.C., owned by Cerberus, declined to comment Thursday. "Even though the transaction has closed, the transition of the operations is going to occur overnight," spokeswoman Christine Wilcox said. "Friday marks the day we begin running the stores."

Wendell Young IV, whose United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 represents about 3,000 of the roughly 10,000 Acme employees, said he did not know how the sale would affect the chain.

"We requested the company's business plan in advance so we could evaluate it," Young said. "They did not agree to provide it to us. They did say they would honor the contracts and be obligated for all pension liabilities.

"In terms of the immediate, there is no change," Young said. "However, clearly Acme has been struggling. It's going to require a lot of resources to invest in upgrading stores, impacting prices favorably, staffing people, so that the service is there for the customers.

"It's going to take a major investment. We hope to meet with principals of the company to further those discussions. Hopefully, they will be more forthcoming. But up until now, they have not shared any details with us."


Contact Linda Loyd

at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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