Food Retailers Agree To Merge

Updated: Mar 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
Albertsons, the US second-largest food retailer, said it had agreed to buy Shaws Supermarkets, the American subsidiary of Britains J Sainsbury PLC, for about $2.5 billion.

Shaws, the 11th-biggest supermarket company in the United States, has more than 200 stores and is a dominant force in New England.

This acquisition will extend our national footprint into Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, Albertsons chairman and chief executive, Larry Johnston, said in a statement.

With the addition of Shaws, Albertsons, which is based in Boise, Idaho, will have more than 2,500 stores in 37 states.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close sometime in the second quarter, the companies said.

Albertsons is only just emerging from a bruising labour dispute in Southern California. The company said Shaws transaction would add to its 2004 earnings, which it currently estimates will be between $1.30 to $1.40 a share.

KENNETH N GILPIN / NY TIMES