Acme’s guardian firm provides East Coast shops

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Good afternoon,

It was interesting to see Acme Markets announcing a successful bid for 27 Kings Food Market and Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market locations, subject toregulatory and court approvals.

The small chains had reportedly struggled with debt loads and a lack of capital needed for regular makeovers,Supermarket News reported.

Parent company Albertsons was the actual buyer. However, the stores will be under the Mid-Atlantic division of Albertsons, based at the old Acme headquarters in Malvern, PA. Interestingly enough, Kings current owner KB Holdings (US) is headed by Judith Spires, who during a long career in the supermarket business served for a time as Acme president.

The Mid-Atlantic division includes Acme and Safeway stores on the East Coast. In Delaware, Safeway has a trio of stores, with the remainder operating under the Acme name.

The Acme-Safeway footprint has been shrinking in Delaware, with a Safeway closing in north Wilmington and an Acme shuttered in Dover. Acmes and Safeways do operate in Bear-Glasgow and Rehoboth Beach.

Acme and Safeway are feeling the pressure in the Delaware Valley from Shoprite, Food Lion, Walmart, and more recently Wegmans. Also in the mix are German discount grocers Aldi and Lidl.

Wegmans, a family-owned grocery store group that routinely makes best places to work lists, operates jumbo-sized stores, complete with a restaurant.

On tap is a Wegmans megastore in the Barley Mill area west of Wilmington. Wegmans already has a popular location that draws Delawareans in the Chadds Ford area.

Albertsons and Acme have responded to the food wars by picking up Pathmark locations in the area several years ago.

It is no surprise that the 27 stores in the New York metro area will not be getting the Acme banner.

Kings and Balducci’s are positioned as upscale supermarkets and would not benefit from a name so closely tied to the Delaware Valley. Albertsons, the nation’s second-largest grocery chain behind Kroger, already has 20 brands.

Like nearly all supermarket chains, Albertsons has benefitted from strong sales that have continued during the Covid-19 pandemic, even when stay at home orders and advisories ended.

But as things settle down, Albertsons will need to do more store remodels and improve customer service. Customers report the company making headway, althoughConsumer Report’sin 2019put Acme in the bottom 10 among more than 90 supermarket chains. CR did rank Acme above Walmart, which also has some work to do.

I hope you had a chance to enjoy this beautiful day. The final newsletter for the workweek will be posted tomorrow. –Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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