Safeway Stores Business Information and History

About the major U.S. business Safeway Stores, information, history, size, location, and boss or management.



Location--Headquarters at 4th and Jackson streets, Oakland, Calif. 94604.

How Created--Safeway Stores was incorporated in 1914 to operate a chain of grocery stores in Southern California. When it merged with Skagg's grocery stores on March 26, 1926, Safeway had 332 stores and Skagg's operated almost as many in Northern California, the Rocky Mountain States, and the Pacific Northwest. In 1931 the MacMarr grocery chain was merged into Safeway, and in 1934 MacMarr's president, Lingan A. Warren, became president of Safeway.

By 1955 Warren's policies of pushing Safeway brands and meeting any competitor's price, no matter how low, produced inadequate profits as far as some stockholders were concerned. Charles E. Merrill, who had got Warren his job 20 years before, owned the largest block of stock (6%), and he forced Warren to retire. The board of directors then chose Merrill's son-in-law, Robert A. Magowan, as Safeway's president and chairman. Magowan reversed Warren's pricing and buying policies, and decentralized Safeway's operations. He also acquired a number of companies, including the purchase in September, 1962, of John Gardner, Ltd. (Super Markets), and Prideaux, Ltd. (London). In November, 1968, Safeway began a joint venture with Holly Farms Poultry Industries, Inc., to locate ready-to-eat, take-home chicken stores on Safeway parking lots.

Size--Safeway is the world's largest chain of retail food stores, operating over 2,300 retail food stores, grocery warehouses, and distribution centers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, and West Germany. In the U.S., the company has over 1,970 stores in 27 States and the District of Columbia, with most stores west of the Mississippi River. In Canada the company has over 270 stores in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

Population--117,221 employees.

Who Rules--Each of the company's stores is run as if it were a separate business. The individual retail stores are organized into 26 retail divisions with each division responsible for about 100 stores. Overall company policy is set by the chairman of the executive committee, the chairman of the board and the president. The officers are elected by a 13-member board of directors that includes 7 officers. The directors are elected by 62,767 stockholders owning 25,797,229 shares.

Who REALLY Rules--Safeway's 30 largest stockholders owned 33.5% of the company's shares in 1971. The 7 largest New York banks had 17.8% of the shares, with Chase Manhattan Bank holding 10.5%.

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