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‘No immediate change’ to Hornbacher’s planned following sale of Supervalu, spokesperson says

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The SuperValu Distribution Center at 3501 12th Avenue North in Fargo, N.D., June 4, 2012. Dave Wallis / The Forum 2 / 2

FARGO – There will be “no immediate change” to how Hornbacher’s operates following the sale of its parent company, Supervalu, a company spokesperson confirmed to Forum News Service.

The grocery retailer made the clarification following a Thursday, July 26, release saying that Supervalu, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., is selling itself to United Natural Foods Inc. in a $2.9 billion deal that also includes debt and liabilities.

United Natural Foods, which is also the primary grocery distributor to Whole Foods Market, is known primarily for its distribution of natural and organic foods and speciality foods in the U.S. and Canada.

As part of the deal, UNFI offered Supervalu shareholders $32.50 per share in cash, a 67 percent premium to Supervalu’s closing price from Wednesday, July 25.

According to a Star Tribune report, both Supervalu and UNFI executives said the combined firm will sell the retail business, which includes grocers such as Hornbacher’s and Minnesota-based Cub Foods. The retail business, the report says, accounted for approximately one-third of Supervalu’s $14 billion annual revenue.

When asked how the sale will affect local grocer Hornbacher’s, which has eight locations throughout Moorhead, Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D., a Supervalu spokesperson said it will be business as usual.

“Hornbacher’s is a great retail operation in the Fargo-Moorhead area and we’ll continue to operate our stores and support our customers in normal course,” said Jeff Swanson, Supervalu’s vice president of communications.

The sale also brings into question the future of Supervalu’s large grocery distribution hub in north Fargo, located at 3501 12th Ave. N.

“We just announced the acquisition today, so it’s premature to speculate on future plans,” Swanson said regarding the hub.

Supervalu, which acquired Moorhead-based Hornbacher’s in 1975, has been in business for nearly 100 years and is the fifth-largest food retailer in the country. In 1980, Supervalu acquired Minnesota-based Cub Foods, which at the time had only five store in the Twin Cities area. The grocery chain has now expanded to 81 locations throughout Minnesota and Illinois.

“The combination of UNFI and Supervalu provides a substantial premium and delivers certainty of value to our stockholders, meaningful benefits to our customers, expanded opportunities for our employees, and the ability for us and our vendors to efficiently serve a varied customer base,” said Supervalu CEO Mark Gross. “I am confident that, together, Supervalu and UNFI will be well-positioned to succeed – and to help our customers succeed – in today’s grocery landscape.”

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