Arden Group, parent of upscale Encino-based grocery chain Gelson's Markets, said it has agreed to sell itself to investment firm TPG for $394 million.
TPG said in a statement it plans to expand the 17-store chain, which has struggled in Southern California's highly competive supermarket arena. Gelson's closed a store in Pasadena this year and one in Northridge last year, but opened one in Long Beach. A new location in La Canada will open next year.
“Gelson’s Markets is an iconic Southern California supermarket chain that prides itself on offering quality and unmatched customer service,” said Carrie Wheeler, a partner at TPG. “We look forward to working with the team to further expand Gelson’s footprint of premier supermarkets.”
Gelson's has a long history here --brothers Bernard and Eugene Gelson opened their first namesake supermarket in Burbank in 1951. Arden Group, which began as an El Monte dairy founded in 1904, bought Gelson's in 1966.
Compton-based Arden announced it was exploring a possible sale in July. Analysts said new ownership could help Gelson's compete better with the likes of Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Bristol Farms, and possibly a revived Wild Oats in bankrupt Fresh & Easy sites.
"Gelson's could maybe benefit from new ownership that could run the store better and freshen the merchandising," said Andrew Wolf, an analyst with BB&T Capital Markets. "Execution has been lackluster at best, and store conditions weren't exactly stellar."
Arden shares have risen 14% since the company announced it was exploring its options.
Arden CEO Bernard Briskin said the deal "delivers significant value to our shareholders. In addition, it is a clear endorsement of Gelson’s Markets and of the hard work and commitment of our employees with whom I have had the privilege to work with for more than 40 years.”
Arden shareholders will receive $126.50 per share in cash for each share of Arden Group’s common stock they hold. The stock closed up $3.09, or 2.5%, at $128.70 on Friday, before the sale was anounced.