Tesco is again being linked with an entry into the US, following the announcement that Albertsons, the country’s number two supermarket chain, is considering putting itself up for sale.
Albertsons said that it was currently exploring strategic alternatives to increase shareholder value, including a possible sale of the company.
Analysts immediately linked Tesco, which has yet to enter the US market, as a possible bidder.
Neil Stern, a senior partner with retail consultants McMillan Doolittle, said: “Tesco is the premier retailer in the world right now and they’re not represented in the US. They have proven they can compete with Wal-Mart.”
However, Robert Campagnino and J Michael Sesko, retail food industry analysts at Prudential Equity Group, were not so sure. In an operational note they said that the proposition was more likely to appeal to private equity firms interested in buying pieces of Albertsons than it would to European supermarket groups.
French retailer Carrefour and Belgium’s Delhaize Group have been tipped, along with US private equity groups.
Albertsons operates 2,500 stores in 37 states. Its portfolio includes Albertsons, Acme, Shaw’s, Jewel-Osco, Sav-on Drugs, Osco Drug and Star Markets, as well as Super Saver and Bristol Farms, which are operated independently.
Tesco has been examining opportunities in the
US for a while. As revealed by The Grocer in May, Tesco’s former trading director for grocery, Colin Smith, was spending time in the US scouting out possibilities.
Industry insiders also believe that Tesco may seek a joint venture with US general merchandise retailer Target and Tesco is also thought to be interested in Midwest hypermarket retailer Meijer (The Grocer, May 7, p4).
In its second-quarter results to August 4, Albertsons said that total sales reached $10.2bn, just slightly higher than last year’s second-quarter revenue.
However, comparable store sales were flat for the quarter and identical store sales fell slightly, down 0.1%. The group also recorded a 3% gain in net profit for the period to $107m.