Bumstead Family Exits from Ownership of United Supermarkets and Associated Companies
In an announcement that shocked many across West Texas, Lubbock-based United Supermarkets, L.L.C. announced Monday afternoon they are being acquired by Albertson’s, L.L.C. The brands that form the “United Family” are United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos and United Express. Also included in the deal are United-owned: R.C. Taylor Distributing, Praters and Llano Logistics.
United has been family-owned since 1916 with four generations of the Bumstead family owning and operating the company. United will become a division of Albertson’s with current United CEO, Robert Taylor (pictured, below), becoming a president within Albertson’s corporate structure. Taylor will directly report to Bob Miller, the CEO of Albertson’s.
Taylor explained the Albertson’s corporate structure, “There is really two Albertson companies. They both have COOs that report to the CEO and it totals 1100 stores. So you can see how big that is.
“We are going to be a separate division. I’m going to report directly to Bob Miller. Why? Because we have a different operation, he doesn’t want any of our names (brands) to change. He wants all of our people there, and it’s been spelled out in a merger agreement that all of our people will be there.”
United will continue to be headquartered out of Lubbock and Taylor also said United’s benefit package will remain the same for current employees.
KFYO News asked Taylor about United’s current expansion plans and if they are going to be put on hold. “We’re involved right now heavily. We’ve got our new Market Street (19th Street & Quaker Avenue) that just opened in Lubbock. We’ve got another Market Street that’s going to open in Flower Mound,” Taylor said. “And we’ve got our United banner that is opening, which is going to be a fabulous store, in Amarillo. And we’ve got plans for the Amigos which is going to be entering Hereford. I think what you’ll see is an acceleration of our growth plans, and all of those banners are always going to be operated out of Lubbock.”
When asked about prices for items sold in United stores Taylor said he can see a benefit to being a part of Albertson’s, “We hope with the buying power of 1100 stores, we hope we can be more active in our promotions (and pricing).” There also may be an opportunity for different brands, and specialty brands, of goods to be sold in United stores.
Taylor said that United’s negotiations were already underway with Albertson’s when the news broke last month of supermarket competitor, H.E.B, buying land in southwest Lubbock near Vintage Township. Also, according to Taylor, there were a number of suitors seeking to purchase United.
Matt Bumstead, co-President of United, represented the family ownership at Monday evening’s press conference in Lubbock. “Fourth generation family businesses don’t come along very often; there’s a reason for that. And there’s a reason that very few make it that far and there’s a reason that there are very, very, very few fifth generation family businesses,” Bumstead said. “The main reason for that, honestly, is the family and that it’s hard for a family to keep their arms around an enterprise, a mission, as something grows over that many years.
An impassioned Bumstead continued, “We’ve seen other family supermarket businesses who had been great and proud reach a point where they were dying on the vine. In many cases it was because, through no real fault of their own, the family lost control, lost their ability to support. They lost their ability to be good stewards. To make the right decisions or to lead in the right way.
“We were not going to let that happen to our business. Not to this company, not to this mission, not to our people, not to our guests. And there are certainly are thousands of people who are second-guessing this decision tonight and they have a right to and quite frankly it’s an honor that they care enough to do that. I assure you, no one cares more about these people than our family. And no one cares more about this mission and the legacy than we do,” Bumstead said.
As far as what Albertson’s brings to the table, Bumstead said, “This is a company who has come forward and said, ‘Look, our main mission here is not to mess United up. We want to take what United has and take what United is and grow it, and strengthen it and support it. We want to let United be United.’.” He continued, “But I believe is Albertson’s intention and what they have said to us is that if there’s going to be any transformation (between the companies) that Albertson’s is going to become more like United. And we believe our culture and our vision is that strong and that Albertson’s has that much respect for it that, that’s what they want to see. Is that naive? Maybe, but we’ve done a lot of things over the years at United that people think are naive that have worked out pretty well. This whole concept of connecting with one another and caring about one another has been real and it’s worked for all of us.”
United expects the acquisition to be competed by the end of October. United currently owns the naming rights for Texas Tech’s on-campus arena: the United Spirit Arena. The naming rights last through 2017 and United and Texas Tech have not yet discussed extending their agreement.