Safeway said Wednesday afternoon that it is in discussions concerning a possible sale of the company.
“Although the discussions are ongoing, the company has not reached an agreement on a transaction, and there can be no assurance that these discussions will lead to an agreement or a completed transaction,” the company said during a fourth quarter 2013 earnings call. “The company will not comment further on these discussions at this time.”
Safeway, based in Pleasanton, Calif., operates 1,335 stores in the U.S. under the banners of Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb and Carrs. Wednesday’s announcement follows the sale of Safeway’s Canadian operations and its Chicago unit, Dominick’s.
The company also is taking other steps to send cash back to shareholders, including distributing the remaining 37.8 million shares of gift card company BlackHawk Network Holdings. The shares represent a 72 percent stake in BlackHawk, which was created by Safeway. In addition, Safeway also is seeking to cash out of its 49 percent stake in Mexican retailer Casa Ley.
“We are pleased with the progress we made in 2013,” said Robert Edwards, Safeway’s president and CEO. “Strategies to grow sales and improve operating profit dollars have begun to produce results. In 2013, we generated our best volume growth since 2006, and we had our best identical-store sales growth in the last five years. At the same time, we continue to pursue strategies to enhance momentum and increase shareholder value. We look forward to continuing progress in 2014.”
Find Safeway’s fourth quarter 2013 and annual earnings results here.