Albertson’s will greatly expand its presence in Texas with the acquisition of 50 stores operated by Lubbock-based United Supermarkets, which include a Market Street store in Colleyville and four more in Collin County.All of the newly purchased stores, including United and Amigos supermarkets, and two distribution centers, including one in Roanoke, will keep their current names and operate as an independent unit, Albertson’s spokeswoman Christine Wilcox said Monday. United CEO Robert Taylor will become president of the unit and report directly to Albertson’s CEO Bob Miller.Neither Albertson’s, which is majority-owned by the private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, nor family-owned United, disclosed the purchase price. The deal is expected to close in October pending government approvals.The acquisition would raise Albertson’s presence in Texas to 122 stores from 72.In March, Cerberus paid $3.3 billion to buy 870 Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco and Star-Market stores from SuperValu, which had acquired them when it and a Cerberus-led group divided up the original Albertson’s chain. It now operates 1,048 stores.“It’s a great fit between two great companies,” Miller said in a statement. “United runs a fantastic operation, and will maintain its own unique identity.”United’s Taylor indicated that shoppers would see little change at Market Street and the unit’s other stores under the new ownership. “United will continue to make decisions locally and maintain a strong commitment to our Texas communities, our guests and our team members,” he said. “The opportunities presented to us to invest in our stores and grow with this transaction are tremendous.”The purchase ends the Snell family’s control of United, which began in 1916. Gant and Matt Bumstead, both Texas Tech University MBAs, were members of the fourth generation involved in its operation.Asked why they sold, United spokesman Eddie Owens said, “I think they came to the realization that they could no longer provide the financial support needed to grow the company at the rate it was growing.” Several years ago, it sold off its stores in Oklahoma.Included in the deal are three wholly-owned United units — RC Taylor, a Lubbock distributor servicing convenience stores in a 150-mile radius that was founded by the CEO’s father; a prepared food manufacturer called Praters; and Llano Logistics, which operates two distribution centers, including one in Roanoke, that supplies United and Market Street stores.The 200,000-square-foot Roanoke warehouse near Alliance Airport sits on 25 acres, providing much room to expand, said Owens, adding that the company has an option on adjoining property.In May, Bloomberg News reported that Albertson’s had secured a $1.15 billion term loan and two revolving credit lines totaling $1.4 billion to finance the purchase of stores from SuperValu. The company refinanced the initial term loan that month, reducing its borrowing costs, according to data reviewed by Bloomberg.Instead of acquiring more stores as announced Monday, Bloomberg had quoted financial analysts as predicting that Albertson’s would sell some properties to pay down debt.
Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 Twitter: @bshlachter