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The Union-Tribune reports on the union problems afflicting Albertsons’ plans to convert a pair of its stores – one in La Jolla, the other in Westchester – to its Bristol Farms concept. And the union is even more alarmed that there may be another half-dozen Albertsons stores that could be converted to a format that has not been unionized.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) plans to attack Albertsons’ plans with anti-Bristol Farms radio and television commercials, as well as direct mail pieces encouraging people not to shop there.

Albertsons is not commenting on how the UFCW is characterizing its plans.

(To be accurate, these are not exactly conversions, because Bristol Farms is an independently managed subsidiary of Albertsons. The Albertsons’ spaces actually were sold to Bristol Farms, which is rehabilitating them.)
KC's View:
We have one word for the UFCW.


We can only imagine the radio commercial it will produce…

Albertsons is planning to convert its local stores to the Bristol Farms format, hoping that superior fresh foods, an outstanding wine department, specialty grocery products and a higher service level will help it appeal to customers better than its mainstream stores.

The UFCW urges you to boycott these stores because the employees there – who often will talk to you, and even have knowledge of the products that they’re selling – are not members of our union.

And that’s not good for anyone.

Except of course, Albertsons. And its shoppers.

The fact is that Albertsons bought Bristol Farms so it would have an alternative format to put into appropriate locations. If these moves makes Albertsons more viable as a company in the long term, maybe that’s actually good for the UFCW’s members.

Now, things aren’t always that simple.

For example, there is scuttlebutt in the industry that some Bristol Farms stores ain’t what they used to be, that the Albertsons affiliation has hurt, not helped. We can’t speak to that personally, but it’s out there.

And, there’s the matter of Albertsons being on the sales block, and what will eventually happen to Bristol Farms.

The immediate issue, though, is whether a Bristol Farms store is a good fit for the neighborhoods where the conversions are taking place. We’re betting they are…and that the UFCW may end up talking to itself on this issue.