Breaking Update: Sources tell us high level Ukrop’s managers have been called to a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) morning. We do not know if this meeting is tied to a possible sale.
#Ukropalyse: (For the Twitter peeps) The sale saga has been going on for 6 months now. It was first reported by trade publication Food World in July. At the time, numerous publications (citing un-named sources) reported that there were three interested buyers: Harris Teeter, Supervalu and Ahold. Industry sources tell me Ahold is back on the radar.
Ahold: The company is based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It was founded in 1887 and is a supermarket giant. (pun intended! Ahold runs Giant Foods in Northern, Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. It also operates Martins, and Shop and Stop in New England.) According to trade publication SuperMarket News Ahold’s US company is the 8th largest retailer for 2009. Ahold has more than 200,000 associates worldwide, with stores in 11 countries. And, the most interesting bit of information I’ve run across is that the company announced just last month it’s getting ready for expansion and acquisition. The CEO John Rishton said, “The changes will also allow [Ahold] to devote more time to growth opportunities in existing and new markets.”
I talked to an Ahold spokesperson by phone today and he was well aware of all the chatter. He would only say, “It’s our policy never to comment on market speculation.” Ukrop’s CEO Bobby Ukrop has never publicly acknowledged the sale and his company spokesperson did not return any of my phone calls. In a letter to his employes in July Bobby Ukrop dismissed the original reports as rumor. He said, “Please know that if anything changes with our company’s direction, you and our customers will hear it from me and not from the rumor mill, blogs or anonymous sources.”
I caught up with David Urban this week. He’s a marketing professor at VCU. He says Ahold is, “a really good company. It’s an interesting company because it’s been engaged in a pretty aggressive growth strategy.” He went on to say, “It’s a company that has been a technological leader. It is a company that puts a lot of emphasis on value for the consumers.”
That’s all I have for now… stay tuned!