Safeway to Speed Up Expansion in 2000

Safeway Inc., under pressure from Wall Street to continue growing, said it will spend $1.4 billion to open as many as 75 new stores and remodel 250 others next year. The announcement is part of the No. 3 U.S. supermarket company's plan to boost earnings 15% over the next five years. That target does not include additional earnings from the planned acquisition of Houston-based Randall's Food Markets, announced last week. However, a company spokeswoman said that through acquisitions and increased sales, the company's earnings could grow at a rate of more than 18% a year. In the last five years, earnings of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway have grown at an average annual rate of 34% as it acquired such chains as Dominick's Supermarkets and Vons. Safeway representatives would not reveal in what areas of the country it plans to build the new stores. However, Vons officials said eight of them would be Vons markets in Southern California and Nevada. Last year Safeway developed 46 new stores. This year's total will reach 55 or 60.

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