CHANDLER, Ariz. — Bashas’ here is contemplating opening its first new store in more than three years on the Navajo Nation, most likely in 2014, Edward N. Basha III told SN last week.
The 124-store company, which emerged from a 13-month Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2010, intends to grow more slowly and deliberately in the future than it did in the past, he said, noting that pursuing growth too aggressively was what led to the bankruptcy filing.
“We intend to be very selective in our expansion and to wait for the Arizona economy to return,” he explained. “We see signs of that recovery, but Arizona was one of the hardest-hit states, and we’re not going to charge ahead on growth as we did before. We will be very deliberate.
“We are focused on making our final debt repayment to unsecured creditors in August and then refreshing the company and moving it forward.”
The chain completed its first post-bankruptcy remodel at a store in Tempe, Ariz., last November, and it’s looking at two potential major remodels — at a Food City in Phoenix and a Bashas’ in Tucson — along with several minor remodels this year.
The store scheduled to open next year will be a Bashas’ Dine, the smaller format it uses on Indian reservations. Dine stores range from 16,000 to 40,000 square feet, with the store next year likely to fall in the range of 16,000 to 25,000 square feet, Basha said.
The company is continuing to deal with the sudden death of its longtime chairman, Eddie Basha Jr., of natural causes on March 26 at age 75.
He had been named chairman emeritus in early January, and although he had stepped back from day-to-day operations when the company emerged from bankruptcy, “he was the heart and soul of our company,” his son said.
“He was still actively visiting stores, and we were still conferring with him. He was part of the very fabric of Bashas’, and we will miss his passion and his charisma. But we understand the legacy he left to us.”
Read more: Eddie Basha Dies at Age 75
The chain was founded by Edward Basha’s grandparents’ generation in 1932, and there are no plans in the foreseeable future for the family to sell the business, Basha, 49, told SN.
He said three of his five brothers are in the business: Ike Basha, who runs the 12-store AJ’s format; Michael Basha, who runs the chain’s 850,000-square-foot distribution center; and David Basha, who oversees real estate; along with Johnny Basha, a first cousin, who oversees special projects, including the Tempe remodel.
Other relatives work in various positions throughout the business, he added, and a fourth generation has all worked in the stores, “though it’s too early to tell how many of them will join the business,” Basha noted.
He said his father died of natural causes, explaining that, although he had some health issues, Eddie Basha was in reasonably good health and had been sent by his doctor to a hospital for some routine tests when he died suddenly while talking with a doctor.
Basha said he and his family are “humbled and grateful” for the outpouring of condolences and well wishes from the industry.
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