Supervalu: Several buyers interested in grocery chain

Cub Foods shopper
Shopper Lindsay Peterson at Cub Foods in St. Paul, Minn., on January 20, 2011.
MPR File Photo/Nikki Tundel

Supervalu says several potential buyers are showing interest in the grocery chain's stores.

The Supervalu board is considering the sale of all — or parts — of the struggling company. But in a conference call with investors, CEO Wayne Sales did not identify any parties that have inquired.

"The company has received a number of indications of interest and is in active dialogue with several parties," Wales said. "There can be no assurance that this process will result in any transaction."

Analysts say Supervalu is a middle-market grocer that can't compete with high-end stores on service and quality or match discounters like Walmart and Target on price.

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Supervalu Thursday reported a net loss of $111 million for the quarter ending Sept. 8. The loss reflects charges related to store closings, falling sales and price cuts aimed at winning back consumers.

Supervalu owns and operates about 1,500 grocery stores across the country, including 44 Cub Foods stores in Minnesota. Morningstar analyst Michael Keara says parts of Supervalu perform well enough to attract buyers. But he doubts there'll be interest in the many Supervalu-owned stores that are struggling to compete.

"I don't think the company gets sold as a whole as they want to," Keara said. "I think you may see selective asset sales. Maybe some people are interested in specific banners and specific markets."

Shares of Supervalu are down about 1 percent in trading so far today.