Discount grocer Save A Lot, based outside St. Louis, has completed the sale of 32 corporate-owned stores to a subsidiary of 127 Wall Holdings, a holding company co-founded by Save A Lot and grocery industry veteran Joe Canfield.
The sale is part of Save A Lot's ongoing effort to transition company-owned stores to local ownership, according to a news release from the discounter, which itself is a division of wholesaler Moran Foods. The 32 stores, located in greater Chicago, Cleveland and Milwaukee, now are owned by 127 Wall Holdings' newly debuted Yellow Banana subsidiary and will continue to operate under the Save A Lot banner.
Save A Lot said that all 400 store associates at the stores are expected to be retained at their current wage and benefit levels.
"Yellow Banana also intends to expand each store’s assortment of local and regional products and hire talent from local communities," the company added.
Canfield is a co-founder of 127 Wall Holdings and CEO of Yellow Banana. A LinkedIn biography indicates he most recently worked as a category manager for Save A Lot in St. Louis and previously had stints for wholesalers Grocers Supply and C&S Wholesale, and nine years with Albertsons.
127 Wall Holdings is a minority-owned company, and Yellow Banana co-founder Walker Brumskine said Yellow Banana's acquisition of the 32 Save A Lot stores represents chance to invest in urban areas in need of fresh grocery options.
"We are thrilled to partner with Save A Lot on this opportunity to invest in underserved, predominantly minority communities in three major cities," he said. Added fellow co-founder Ademola Adewale-Sadik: "As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, providing affordable, high-quality nutrition to working families is an essential service that creates meaningful impact."
Earlier this summer, Save A Lot announced a chainwide remodeling program that will see all of the company's approximately 1,000 stores in 32 states updated inside and out by 2024. The grocer debuted a new ad campaign in July featuring a video produced and directed by Drew Kirsch, a recent MTV Video Music Awards winner, to highlight the company's store modernizations, refreshed private-label lineup and localized product assortment.
"Over the last year, our focus has been on our long-term growth and becoming a brand of choice for our customers, including providing them with an enhanced hometown shopping experience," Tim Schroder, Save A Lot's SVP of marketing, said at the time, adding that the campaign builds on the chain's work toward "breaking out of the sea of sameness that's taken over the industry as of late."
The "hometown" focus is a strategy aimed helping Save A Lot, founded in 1977, find firmer footing against German discount rivals Aldi and Lidl. Departing Save A Lot CEO Kenneth McGrath, who had led Lidl's expansion into the U.S., over the summer announced plans to return to Germany and to his former employer, effective Oct. 1.
McGrath steered Save A Lot after Supervalu sold the chain to private-equity firm Onex Corp. for $1.4 billion in 2016. Onex exited as majority investor in the brand after Save A Lot announced a restructuring to slash debt in early 2020.