PHOENIX — While the decision to sell the family's nearly 90-year-old Arizona grocery business is an obviously personal one for him, Edward "Trey" Basha, the president of Bashas' Family of Stores, said it was ultimately a business decision to ensure the future of the company and its employees.
"What we found is that the larger players here in the market, those that had a national footprint, were getting better access to products (during the pandemic). So we knew that we had to buy, sell, or merge, that we had to scale up in order to continue to be relevant to continue to compete," Basha told ABC15 in a Monday afternoon interview.
"And so when we were approached by Raley's, they seemed to be a very good fit, first and foremost, because they were a family company," he said.
Bashas' announced last Friday in a news release that it would be sold to Raley's Family of Fine Stores, a California-based regional grocery chain with stores primarily located in northern California and Nevada. The deal has been formally signed and is expected to close by the end of the year.
Basha said Raley's executive team reached out to them about 14 months ago.
"It wasn't something we were seeking out. They approached us unsolicited," he said. "With the pandemic and pandemic shopping and our difficulty in getting product, that really opened our eyes to what we needed to consider for the future."
He added that the company is "financially sound" and that it came down to buying power and access.
As part of the deal, Basha said all of the Bashas'-branded stores, including AJ's Fine Foods and Food City, would remain open and unchanged. So, for customers, they should not notice any major changes, immediate or otherwise, he said.
Current employees and management would also continue working with no changes to pay or benefits, he said. Bashas' distribution center and headquarters would also remain in Chandler.
He also said Raley's has committed to expanding the Bashas' brand, though no immediate details on that have been released. He also said he did not expect Raley's to have their branded stores in Arizona.
In its own statement on Friday, Raley's said: "We believe that Bashas’ is a great fit. Their company performance is strong, and their values align with ours. This announcement expands our presence in two new states and four Tribal Nations, strengthens our ability to compete and further differentiates our position in the market."
The Valley is home to several grocery store brands, including Fry's Food Stores, which is part of Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, Natural Grocers, Aldi, Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam's Club, and a number of international markets.