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Bristol Farms, the 11-store Southern California-based fresh food-oriented grocery chain, has been acquired by Albertsons. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Bristol Farms reportedly will continue to operate under its own name, with independent management led by CEO Kevin Davis, who will remain in charge.

MNB reported the likelihood of this acquisition more than a month ago.

"We are thrilled to welcome Bristol Farms to Albertsons' world class family of stores," Larry Johnston, Albertsons CEO, said in a prepared statement. "Bristol Farms has clearly built a solid leadership position in the Southern California specialty, gourmet market segment with strong performance over the past several years. This acquisition is the latest example of our dedication to diversify into new formats that can accelerate growth, tap into new customer segments and maximize return on invested capital."
KC's View:
Maybe this is good for Albertsons as it attempts to find new formats that can help it build market share and differentiate itself from the competition. And maybe this will be good for Bristol Farms, because it suddenly is operating with far deeper pockets than it had just weeks ago.

But we can’t help worrying that this is going to turn out like Safeway’s acquisition of Genuardi’s and Dominick’s, that the owning company is going to squeeze the individuality and innovation out of its new prize until Bristol Farms is just a shadow of its former self.

Maybe that won’t happen. We have tremendous respect for Kevin Davis and what he has built at Bristol Farms, and hope that Albertsons is able to use him and his people to be a change agent where necessary elsewhere in the company.

Perhaps this acquisition was inevitable. Perhaps there can’t be independent companies like Bristol Farms and Genuardi’s anymore.

If so, that’s a shame. And we find it hard to accept.