- Save A Lot has sold 33 company-owned locations in the greater Orlando, Florida, area to Ascend Grocery, a company co-founded by former Fresh Thyme Market and Sunflower Farmers Market CEO Chris Sherrell, according to a press release on Thursday.
- Beginning this year, Ascend Grocery plans to remodel the stores it is acquiring to highlight Save A Lot's updated branding.
- The transaction, which took place in December, continues Save A Lot's push to convert stores to local ownership in connection with its ongoing transition to a wholesale model.
Save A Lot's decision to sell the stores is part of a broad effort by the discount supermarket operator to change its strategic direction and refresh its image with customers.
Ascend Grocery expects to expand the variety of ethnic and locally sourced foods carried by the stores it is acquiring, along with increasing the assortment of fresh produce and meat, according to the announcement. The company also plans to invest in upgraded décor, flooring, lighting and cases for meat and produce.
The approximately 400 associates employed by sold stores will become employees of Ascend Grocery, according to Save A Lot.
Save A Lot, which counts more than 900 stores in 32 states under its brand, has been unloading its portfolio of supermarkets in connection with a financial restructuring in early 2020 designed to help the retailer reduce its debt load.
In September, the grocer said it sold 32 stores in Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin to Yellow Banana, part of holding company 127 Wall Holdings. That deal followed Save A Lot's December 2020 announcement that it sold 51 stores in the Tampa, Florida, area to Ohio grocery chain Fresh Encounter.
Last July, Save A Lot said it was stepping up its efforts to remodel stores and intended to spiff up all locations carrying its name by 2024.
Save A Lot's efforts to retool its brand also includes a music video and advertising campaign intended to show off its remodeled stores and help it stand out against what Tim Schroder, one of the grocer's top marketing executives, called "the sea of sameness that's taken over the industry as of late."