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The Chicago Tribune reports that Supervalu "is making a power play in the Chicago area, stepping into the void being left by the bankrupt Central Grocers, a nearly century-old grocery cooperative that's closed up shop." Supervalu is said to be buying Central Grocers' "massive," one-million-square-foot Joliet, Illinois, warehouse for $61 million, a move that comes just a month after it closed on a $390 million acquisition of California-based Unified Grocers.

The suggests that as a result of the new Illinois acquisition, local consumers "likely will notice a greater variety of store-branded items in grocery stores previously served by Central Grocers, which operated as a wholesaler for more than 400 independent stores in the Chicago area. Many of those retailers already have switched from Central Grocers to either Supervalu or Associated Wholesale Grocers, a Kansas-based cooperative with a warehouse in Kenosha, Wis."

This move seems to be in line with Supervalu's new reality - while it still owns some retailers (Cub, Shop 'n Save), its wholesale business during the just-completed first quarter was up 12 percent over the same period a year ago, while same-store retail sales were down 4.9 percent during the same period.
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