Combo Units Spur American Stores Review

One of the West Coast’s biggest retail reviews in recent years has kicked off, with American Stores Co. looking for a single shop to handle its Lucky, Sav-on and combination store operations in California, Nevada and New Mexico.
A key to winning the approximately $50 million account will be an agency’s ability to market not only the company’s individual chains, but also its combo stores, which couple a Lucky supermarket with a Sav-on drug store. “We believe Lucky’s rapidly expanding network of food and drug combination stores gives us a distinct advantage in the competitive California marketplace,” said Allen M. Zietz, executive vice president of marketing for the Salt Lake City-based client.
The review is also part of an overall corporate consolidation effort that has been under way since 1997, sources said.
Contenders must have offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles and have expertise in Hispanic marketing and advertising, said Zietz.
American Stores plans to select a new agency of record by October. The review is being handled by Jon Wylie, vice president of advertising for Lucky’s Southern California division.
Grey Advertising’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, which handle Lucky, will participate in the review. “We look at this as a very big opportunity to combine the advertising of Sav-on and Lucky,” said Larry Varnes, vice chairman and chief strategic officer of Grey’s Western division. “We will participate aggressively and confidently [in the review].”
Lois/EJL, Chicago, which handles ads for Sav-on, will also participate. The shop will continue as agency of record for the company’s Jewel food stores and Osco drug stores in the Chicago area, said the client.
American Stores is the third-largest supermarket chain in the country, behind Kroger and Safeway. It owns and operates more than 440 Lucky stores in the Western U.S., and more than 450 Sav-on retail units nationwide.