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Save A Lot sells area stores to retail partner

Margie Manning

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Discount grocer Save A Lot is selling its 51 company-owned stores in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area to Fresh Encounter, a retail partner licensee.

Fresh Encounter will continue to operate the stores under the Save A Lot banner.

“The Fresh Encounter family of companies has a culture that prioritizes being positive, appreciative and resilient and we are eager to onboard the new Florida associates. Over the past several months I have toured stores in the greater Tampa market and I’m impressed with the Save A Lot team,” Michael Needler Jr., president and CEO of Fresh Encounter Inc., said in a news release.

Save A Lot stores have a smaller footprint than many competitors, which reduces operating expenses such as rent and labor. The company said it also is able to reduce costs by carrying about 1,800 products that are the most frequently bought items, reducing the need for space and eliminating slow moving products from distribution.

Save A Lot lags larger competitors in local market share. A 2018 report from Drug Store News said Publix Super Markets had a 36.5 percent market share in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, followed by Walmart at 34.7 percent.

However Publix has lost market share to Trader Joe’s, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market as well as the former Lucky’s Market, according to the Drug Store News report. Save A Lot and Aldi lure shoppers with their blend of limited assortments, private labels and low prices, the report said, and these smaller-than-average formats appeal to millennials, a key demographic, because they will soon be starting families. “Many of them tend to prefer smaller stores with unique offerings instead of the traditional grocery store,” Drug Store News said.

Save A Lot has been recapitalizing its business and taking debt off its balance sheet, as it transitions to a wholesale model. The company said it is selling more than 300 corporate-operated locations throughout its footprint to new and existing retail partners who will continue to operate the stores under the Save A Lot banner.  To date, Save A Lot has executed seven sale transactions, comprising 82 stores, including those being sold to Fresh Encounter. The company said it expects to complete its relicensing program in 2021.

“Through the re-licensing transactions we are executing across our footprint, we believe that we will be even better positioned to continue to serve the communities in which we operate. We currently have a dedicated group of retail partners that we support and we look forward to helping other entrepreneurs own, operate and succeed in their own business,”  Kenneth McGrath, Save A Lot CEO, said in the news release.

McGrath and the rest of the Save A Lot corporate team are “transformative,” Needler said. “We are equally eager to join their efforts in re-establishing the Save A Lot brand for tomorrow’s competitive environment.”

Save A Lot will continue to operate 21 corporate stores in St. Louis, where it is based, and where it will continue to develop and launch new innovations as a testing ground to help its retail partners succeed in their individual communities across the country.

The company’s website shows 12 stores are in Pinellas County. The Pinellas locations are:

  • 4350 6th St., St. Petersburg
  • 701 9th St. N., St. Petersburg
  • 2804 34th St. N., St. Petersburg
  • 890 49th St. N., St. Petersburg
  • 1804 62nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg
  • 5015 Gulfport Blvd., Gulfport
  • 4380 66th St., Kenneth City
  • 8815 Park Blvd., Seminole
  • 2156 E. Bay Dr., Largo
  • 100 Clearwater Largo Rd., Largo
  • 1209 Cleveland St., Clearwater
  • 950 Patricia Ave., Dunedin
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