BRISTOL FARMS BUYS NATURAL RETAILER

CARSON, Calif. -- Bristol Farms here, a wholly owned subsidiary of Albertsons, Boise, Idaho, has reportedly acquired Lazy Acres Market, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based natural- and organic-food retailer.Although executives at Bristol Farms and Lazy Acres could not be reached for comment last week, an employee of Lazy Farms told SN that Kevin Davis has been the store's president since mid-November. Davis

CARSON, Calif. -- Bristol Farms here, a wholly owned subsidiary of Albertsons, Boise, Idaho, has reportedly acquired Lazy Acres Market, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based natural- and organic-food retailer.

Although executives at Bristol Farms and Lazy Acres could not be reached for comment last week, an employee of Lazy Farms told SN that Kevin Davis has been the store's president since mid-November. Davis is president and chief executive officer of Bristol Farms.

Bristol Farms reportedly plans to retain the Lazy Acres banner and to open additional locations under that name in the Santa Barbara area and in areas of central California.

Bristol Farms, which was acquired by Albertsons a year ago, operates 11 stores under that banner in the Los Angeles area. An additional Bristol Farms store is scheduled to open later this month in Westchester, Calif.

Lazy Farms is a 19,000-square-foot store with 260 employees and sales of $26 million in 2002, the most recent year for which volume figures are available, according to local press reports. In a letter to the Santa Barbara News-Press in August, one of the store's co-owners said the store was averaging 2,800 customers a day.

Lazy Farms was founded in March 1991 by three Santa Barbara residents: Jimmy Searcy, Irwin Carasso and Hugo Van Seenus. Carasso founded Tree of Life in St. Augustine, Fla., and opened a Western division, called Tree of Life West, before selling the company in 1987. He partnered with Searcy in a natural foods distribution business before the two of them joined with Van Seenus, a natural foods retailer, to open Lazy Farms.

According to the store's Web site, it carries organic produce and dairy products, cheeses and wines from local producers and suppliers around the world, beef free of added hormones or antibiotics, free-range poultry and fresh seafood.