SMART & FINAL TO BUY LAND FOR WAREHOUSE FROM CERTIFIED

LOS ANGELES -- Certified Grocers of California, a member-owned cooperative here, said last week it has agreed to sell a portion of its 64-acre property in the City of Commerce to Smart & Final Stores Corp., Vernon, Calif., which will construct a new warehouse on the site. move its corporate offices to a nearby facility. Roger M. Laverty 3d, Smart & Final's president and chief executive officer, said

LOS ANGELES -- Certified Grocers of California, a member-owned cooperative here, said last week it has agreed to sell a portion of its 64-acre property in the City of Commerce to Smart & Final Stores Corp., Vernon, Calif., which will construct a new warehouse on the site.

move its corporate offices to a nearby facility. Roger M. Laverty 3d, Smart & Final's president and chief executive officer, said the new facility "will allow three times the capacity to supply our stores while providing increased operating efficiencies."

The 24-acre site on which Smart & Final will build the warehouse, at the eastern end of Certified's property, is presently occupied by Certified's corporate offices and a cluster of interconnected buildings behind it that total approximately 785,000 square feet.

Certified said it plans to move its offices to a leased building on the western end of the 64-acre property before July 1, with some of the other buildings scheduled to be demolished by that date.

Certified's 650,000-square-foot mechanized warehouse at the site will not be affected by the changes, Robert Ling, Certified's executive director of groceries, said.

The company's ice cream and product recovery operations, which are currently housed in the buildings behind the existing corporate offices, will be moved to other nearby facilities, Long told SN. However, he said Certified has not decided whether to move its Grocers Speciality Co. subsidiary and excess-inventory storage to the mechanized warehouse or to other off-site locations.

"We are excited about this transaction because it symbolizes the beginning of a new era at Certified," Alfred A. Plamann, president and chief executive officer, said. "In 1997 we're celebrating the 75th anniversary of our company, and in 1998 we will mark the beginning of our next 75 years -- in highly efficient office space that will allow us to better serve our members and that will position us for future growth."

Smart & Final -- originally a full-service wholesaler that competed with Certified -- has evolved over the years into an operator of warehouse stores that cater to food-service operators and the public. According to Ling, the two companies do not do any business together, "though that's always a possibility," he told SN.