Beyond the Southeast, Delhaize continues to review its portfolio for further divestitures, sources said. Potential divestitures by Delhaize could include Hannaford, with 179 supermarkets in the Northeast, and Bottom Dollar, a chain of 57 discount stores in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as Bloom, a chain of 49 stores in Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina, it was reported. Such divestitures would be to support its core Food Lion supermarket chain.

Other supermarket giants looking to unload assets could include both Safeway ( SWY) and Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea. Safeway owns Genuardi's Family Markets, Randall's Food Markets, Carr-Gottsteim Foods, Dominick's Supermarkets and Vons Cos. A&P, which has put its Food Emporium unit on the block, operates A&P, Waldbaum's, Pathmark, Best Cellars, Superfresh and Food Basics brands.

National chains and large regionals are likely analyzing their portfolios to determine where their strengths and weaknesses lie, said Antony Karabus, president of financial advisory firm Hilco Trading's SD Retail Consulting practice. The idea would be to divest stores in weak markets and to make tuck-in acquisitions to shore up positions in core markets, Karabus explained

Written by Richard Collings

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