Albertson’s to Stay Put

Store closings and other belt-tightening moves at Albertson’s do not mean the supermarket chain is rethinking its long-standing alliance with Duncan & Associates, a spokesman for the retailer confirmed last week.

The various cost-cutting moves at Albertson’s, including the closing of 165 stores, come at a time when the 6-year-old Los Angeles agency has trimmed staff, brought in new leadership and set out to find business beyond its core client. The timing of the developments at the client and agency has stirred speculation that the account may be in play.

Officials at the Boise, Idaho-based retailer initially refused to discuss the agency’s status. But a representative later issued a statement indicating the company is “pleased” with Duncan and “doesn’t have any current plans to change.”

“We knew there would be changes at Albertson’s, but we had been assured by senior management that there would be no change in advertising agencies,” said agency principal Hugh Duncan. “What we have been doing is putting ourselves in a position where we can attract other clients in addition to Albertson’s.”

Most notably, the shop hired Larry Tolpin as managing partner and chief creative officer [Adweek, July 9]. Tolpin, former CEO and worldwide creative director at J. Walter Thompson, San Francisco, has been charged with finding new business for the shop.

Since opening in 1995, the shop has focused virtually all of its efforts on Albertson’s chains, which include its namesake chain as well as Sav-On, Jewel and Acme. Last year Duncan claimed billings close to $175 million.