ALBERTSON'S DENIES ST. LOUIS PLANS

ST. LOUIS (FNS) -- Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, has denied reports that it is planning to enter the St. Louis market.Michael Read, Albertson's spokesman, said the chain has received "a lot of calls" in the wake of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story by columnist Jerry Berger. The column said the retailer "has begun to establish beachheads here with three to seven locations. Real estate types are falling

ST. LOUIS (FNS) -- Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, has denied reports that it is planning to enter the St. Louis market.

Michael Read, Albertson's spokesman, said the chain has received "a lot of calls" in the wake of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story by columnist Jerry Berger. The column said the retailer "has begun to establish beachheads here with three to seven locations. Real estate types are falling over themselves in an attempt to nail down leases with the super-supermarket chain."

Expecting Albertson's to enter St. Louis, meatcutters Local 88 and retail clerks Local 655 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union here are sending letters welcoming the chain to the area, said Peggy Adams, Local 88 president. "We are going to tell them that we have a labor force available of which we are proud," she said.

Several local observers also said Albertson's is eyeing buildings here vacated by bankrupt Central Hardware Co. They said a deep-pocketed chain like Albertson's may see an opportunity to crack the dominance of Schnuck Markets, which has more than a 50% market share here since acquiring National Super Markets.

"We are not committed to the St. Louis market, not at this point in time," Albertson's Read said. The Post-Dispatch story "is in the category of a rumor, and we don't comment on rumors," he said. "We're growing, and we look at a lot of things."

In a recent interview with SN, Richard King, Albertson's president and chief operating officer, said the chain had not set its next major market entry yet. Albertson's newest market entries are Houston, where six stores are planned this year, and Jackson, Miss., where three units are planned next year.