Friday, March 26, 2004

Business Irony 101

Way back when, I was working in the retail ad business. One of our customers was Star Markets, a Boston-area institution founded by the Mugar family (Some of you may have heard of David Mugar - he's the fellow who bankrolls the Pops concert on the Esplanade avery July 4th). Many years ago - before my time, Star was sold to American Stores - a rather diverse company that owned, among others, Osco Drug, Jewel Markets, and Acme Markets. They did OK, but I think they were kind of neglected up here in New England (American was Utah-based). So in the mid-90's, A group of Star managers led by former Staples bigwig Henry Nasella bought Star away from American. Star did pretty well under the new management, investing in stores, starting up a natural foods spinoff market, but ultimately sold out - to Shaw's, another New England chain that was owned by J Sainsbury, a large British grocery company.

The marriage worked pretty well - Shaw's stores are primarily in outer Boston suburbs and beyond, while Star was mainly inside the metro Boston area.

Well, this morning it was announced that Sainsbury just sold Shaw's to Albertsons, a huge Idaho-based company. Albertson's has done a superb job of growing through acquisition over recent years. One of their most notable purchases was...

American Stores. They bought them back in 1999. So Star is now right back where they started - just in an even bigger company.

Which is pretty much proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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