Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Supervalu freezes pay, lays off workers as buyer conducts due diligence

Supervalu, the troubled supermarket chain whose banners in the Philadelphia region include Acme and Save-A-Lot, announced last week it would implement a pay freeze for all employees at its corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. The company said it will also reduce or suspend matching contributions to employees' 401(k) plans starting next year.

Earlier in the month Supervalu announced that the company would layoff 700 people, or approximately 4% of the workforce, at Shaw's and Star Market, both of which operate in New England.

In the mean time, Cerberus Capital Management, which is in talks to buy Supervalu, is still conducting its due diligence. The two companies are familiar with each other, as Cerberus joined Supervalu in buying a stake in Albertson's in 2006. According to published reports, Cerberus currently owns the entity that operates 205 Albertson's stores, while Supervalu operates 564 of them.

Supervalu, which operates Shoppers, Bristol Farms, Cub and Jewel-Osco in addition to the banners mentioned above, has lost more that $2.5 billion over its past two fiscal years, and recently reported its 14th straight quarterly sales decrease. It is the third largest grocery chain in the United States behind Kroger and Safeway.

It has been reported that private equity firms KKR and TPG Capital have expressed interest in purchasing Supervalu, as well as billionaire Ron Burkle.

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