Certified Grocers of California, a Commerce-based cooperative that supplies independent supermarket chains, said Tuesday it has found buyers for 26 of the 32 divested stores purchased from Albertson's following its merger with American Stores Co.
The sale of the stores, which are located from San Diego County to Santa Barbara, will give a number of independent operators--all supplied by Certified--a foothold in new markets.
It will also give one ethnic supermarket chain, Carson-based K.V. Mart Co., a huge boost in sales and market share. K.V. Mart will purchase 11 stores from Certified, expanding its chain of Top Valu Markets and Valu Plus Food Warehouse stores to 29 and extending its geographic reach from Garden Grove to Oxnard.
Los Angeles-based Jons Markets, which operates 13 stores in Los Angeles County, will pick up two stores, in Simi Valley and Orange County. Four-store chain Hope Mart of Torrance will also add two stores, in Rialto and Upland.
The other stores will be purchased individually by such Southland operators as Gelson's Markets, Amar Ranch Markets, Vallarta Supermarkets, Big Saver Foods and El Tigre.
Certified officials expect the sales of these stores to be completed in the fall. The remaining six stores will be operated by Certified under Sav Max and Apple Market banners.
The expansion of these independent chains also has meant a decline in union membership.
John Sperry, president of United Food and Commercial Workers International Local 324 in Orange County, expects that the sale of five Orange County supermarkets to nonunion operators will mean the loss of several hundred union jobs, as workers with less seniority are unable to exercise their right to transfer to other stores.
Similarly, officials with UFCW Local 1428 in Pomona expect 300 of its members to be forced to leave the union when a handful of stores in that area are transferred to new operators.