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Investor Buys Stake in N.Y.’s Associated

NEW YORK — Private equity firm AUA Private Equity Partners here said it has completed a recapitalization of Associated Food Holdings that will allow the company to accelerate new store growth and increase financing to its operators for remodeling and expansion.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, although AUA said it typically makes equity investments of $10 million to $30 million in family-owned, Hispanic focused businesses. Its managing partner is Andy Unanue, Associated’s chairman and a former chief operating officer of Goya. The firm made the investment in partnership with Associated’s owners.

Established here more than 50 years ago, Associated provides distribution, financing, marketing and promotional services to around 250 branded independent supermarkets, most operating under the Associated or Compare banners. Harry Laufer and Ira Gober, co-chief executive officers, will continue to lead the company.

“Over the past few years we have been thinking about bringing in a strategic investor and I believe that we have now found the right partner to help accelerate our growth plan,” Gober said in a statement. “We are excited to be in partnership with the AUA Equity team. They understand our Hispanic customer base and their collaborative approach has shown me that they will add true value.”

Separately this week, Associated said it has appointed Joe Garcia as executive vice president, responsible for merchandising, marketing and information technology. Garcia has more than 35 years of supermarket industry experience, most recently as a senior vice president with distributor White Rose. Garcia also has experience with General Trading Company, Alfred M. Lewis Co., Associated Grocers of Florida and Winn-Dixie Stores.

“Joe’s industry experience will have a very positive impact on our service offerings to our retailers,” Unanue said in a statement.

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