U-SAVE OPTS TO SHUTTER WAREHOUSE, USE FLEMING

TAMPA, Fla. -- B&B Holdings, operator of 17 U-Save Supermarkets, here said last week it intends to close its sole distribution center in an attempt to streamline operations.Instead, the company said Dallas - based Fleming will service the U-Save stores from its Miami facility.The 78-year-old company said it has been operating in an area of increased competition from larger retailers like Albertson's,

TAMPA, Fla. -- B&B Holdings, operator of 17 U-Save Supermarkets, here said last week it intends to close its sole distribution center in an attempt to streamline operations.

Instead, the company said Dallas - based Fleming will service the U-Save stores from its Miami facility.

The 78-year-old company said it has been operating in an area of increased competition from larger retailers like Albertson's, Publix and Winn-Dixie.

Doug Davis, B&B Holdings spokesman, told SN, "We have decided to close the facility to improve efficiencies on the buying end so that we can concentrate on retail without worrying about distribution. We can be more competitive using a larger wholesaler with more buying power."

Shane Boyd, Fleming spokesman, told SN the deal is a notable increase in business for Fleming's Miami division, even though it involves only 17 stores.

"Seeing that the U-Saves operate at enough volume for self-distribution, the added business for our Miami division is a great benefit," he said.

Scott Nicholson, president of Fleming's Miami division, commented, "This significantly expands the business volume of Fleming's Miami operation and further enhances our economies for all Miami Division retail customers."

J. Andrew Bever Jr., president, B&B Holdings, told SN, "This arrangement allows us to more fully concentrate on our retail operations while also taking advantage of Fleming's efficiencies, significant buying scale and distribution expertise as a leading procurement and logistics company. We expect this action to improve the shopping experience at all U-Save Supermarkets."

The company added the warehouse will be closed by the end of March, and that the facility is for sale, although a potential buyer has yet to be identified.

The chain, which has closed three underperforming units in the past year, will not be closing or opening any stores in the near future, said Davis. He also said the chain itself is not for sale. B&B Holdings tried to sell its U-Save units to Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla., 10 years ago, but the deal was blocked by the U.S. Justice Department on antitrust grounds.

The closing of the distribution facility will result in the termination of 35 positions. Davis said B&B Holdings is hoping to find positions for all of its displaced workers. However, many warehouse employees may not wish to enter the retail end of the business, and so B&B Holdings may not be able to find positions for them, Davis said.

Along with its U-Save stores, B&B Holdings also operates 26 Handy Foods convenience stores in the Tampa area.