Groceries to go? 

The uncertainty surrounding the news that Albertsons Inc. could be bought out by an investment group any day now has employees at Missoula’s two Albertsons grocery stores anxious…just in time for the holidays.

According to one employee who didn’t want to be named, workers aren’t receiving any details about the impending sale.

“We’ve been instructed not to talk about it,” said the employee, who was stocking shelves at the Eastgate Albertsons Tuesday morning. “They [upper management] are not telling us anything. All we know is what we read in the papers.”

According to a Dec. 16 Wall Street Journal report, Albertsons is set to be sold to an investment group of Cerberus Capital, Kimco Reality Group and grocer Supervalu Inc. Cerberus reportedly offered $26 per share for the company, or $9.6 billion. According to the Journal, the deal would be the second-largest buyout of its kind in history, and could lead to layoffs and store closings.

According to Pewaukee, Wisc.-based supermarket analyst David J. Livingston, it’s too early to predict what might happen to Montana’s Albertsons stores.

“There are a lot of Albertsons stores that are doing rather poorly, mainly in Texas, Louisiana and Florida. Those stores will probably close and the real estate will be spun off,” Livingston told the Independent Monday.

But in Montana, Albertsons’ footing is stronger, and the fate of those stores is less clear.

“Most of the stores [in Montana] are doing typically better than other parts of the country. What’s going to happen to them is a good question. Will they be run independently or sold to other operators?”

According to the Albertsons employee we spoke with, when Albertsons bought Buttrey Food and Drug in 1998, Buttrey employees were told not to worry.

“They were very open with us about what was going on and told us we weren’t going to lose our jobs,” said the employee, who worked for Buttrey before the buyout. “This time, they’re not telling us anything. We really feel like we’re being left hanging.”

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