Supervalu Inc. took another step toward getting out of the retail business on March 14, when it announced plans to sell 21 of 38 Farm Fresh stores.
The chain, based in Virigina Beach, Va., had been rumored to sell or close in late February.
Eight stores were sold to Cincinnati-based Kroger Co.'s Mid Atlantic Division, Kroger's Harris Teeter banner is buying 10, and three went to Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion, in transactions expected to close in May.
Supervalu said in a news release a third party will liquidate inventory at the stores and it is exploring selling the remaining 17 Farm Fresh stores.
The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based company has been under pressure recently by activist investors to get out of the retail business and focus on wholesale. The company said in a statement it has had discussions and meetings with investor representatives, but discussions got nowhere.
“Despite our efforts to reach a constructive path forward and to discuss overlapping objectives,” Supervalu said, in a statement,” Blackwells has decided to threaten an unnecessary and counterproductive proxy contest.”
Mark Gross, Supervlau president and CEO, said in the Farm Fresh news release that the sale is in the best long-term financial and strategic interest of the business.
"Over the past two years, we've been working diligently and rapidly to transform our business to become the wholesale supplier of choice for grocery retailers across the United States," Gross said, in the release. "In 2016, we sold Save-A-Lot and its network of approximately 1,350 retail locations."
Since then, the company acquired two big name wholesale operations -- Unified Grocers and Associated Grocers of Florida.
"Which, wen combined with substantial organic growth, added more than $5 billion in run rate sales to bring our core wholesale business to nearly $13 billion," Gross said. "Exiting the Farm Fresh banner will enable us to allocate greater resources and energy toward the strategic growth of our wholesale business."