Shopko, Pamida Announce Merger

Combined smaller-format general merchandise retailer will focus on smaller communities

Published in CSP Daily News

GREEN BAY, Wis. & OMAHA, Neb. -- Two Midwest general merchandise retail chains, Shopko Stores and Pamida, have announced they will merge to create one of the largest U.S. retailers focused on serving smaller and rural communities.

The combined entity will have nearly 350 locations in 22 states and plans for new store growth in the second half of 2012 and beyond.

Financial details of the merger, which is expected to close in mid-February, were not disclosed.

With annual revenues of $2 billion, Green Bay, Wis.-based Shopko operates 149 stores in 13 states located throughout the Midwest, Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions.

Omaha, Neb.-based Pamida operates 193 stores in 17 states, primarily in the Mountain, North Central and Midwest regions, and has revenues of approximately $1 billion.

Pamida and Shopko are highly complementary in terms of locations and communities served, as well as a shared focus on brand-name selection, personalized service, outstanding values every day, pharmacy services and strong community involvement. Customers will benefit from their combined resources, buying power and merchandising expertise, which they said will also set a solid foundation for future growth.

The combined company, which will be headquartered in Green Bay, will use the Shopko name and be led by Shopko president, chairman and CEO W. Paul Jones. Pamida president and CEO John Harlow will serve on the leadership team and help direct the integration process. There will be no change to Shopko's stores, and approximately $80 million will be invested over the next 12 months in the conversion of most of Pamida's locations to the Shopko Hometown store concept and brand.

"Merging Pamida and Shopko is a great move for our businesses and our customers given our complementary strengths, store networks and consumer-centric retail models," said Jones. "The Shopko Hometown store format, featuring our unique merchandising strategy and improved store design, is an ideal fit for the smaller communities that Pamida serves with its exceptional service and community-minded approach. We intend to be the leader in this category by combining the best of Shopko and Pamida in our aggressive new-store growth plans."

The Shopko Hometown retail format, developed over the past three years to augment Shopko's larger store model, offers a differentiated and financially successful merchandising strategy. Shopko Hometown combines pharmacy services with a broad and dynamic offering of strong national brands and high-value private-label brands of apparel, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items and lawn and garden products - all in attractive, well laid out, easy-to-shop store formats that range from 15,000 to 35,000 square feet.

Over the past two years, Shopko has purchased seven stores from Pamida and successfully transitioned them to the Shopko Hometown format. These locations have delivered an improved customer experience and have seen a significant increase in store traffic, sales and profitability, affirming the potential of the merger.

Once Pamida's chainwide conversions are complete, the company plans to accelerate the addition of new Shopko Hometown stores in the second half of 2012 and into 2013. Both companies are owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners Inc., a leading private-investment firm focused on leverage buyouts, equity, debt and other investments in market-leading companies.

Sun Capital is also owner of Wilmington, N.C.-based VPS Convenience Store Group, which operates 440 convenience stores throughout the Southeast and Midwest under the Scotchman, Village Pantry, Young's, Li'l Crickett and Next Door Stores names.

"This is an exciting move for Pamida, and the Shopko Hometown format will offer our customers an even better retail experience and a new and differentiated product offering that is not currently available in the smaller communities we serve," said Harlow. "Pamida's great associates, store locations, focus on personalized service and commitment to giving back in our local communities are all ideal complements to Shopko."

Founded in 1962 and based in Green Bay, Shopko Stores Operating Co. LLC is a $2 billion retailer. Its retail formats include 134 Shopko stores, providing quality name-brand merchandise, great values, pharmacy and optical services in small- to midsized cities; five Shopko Express Rx stores, a convenient neighborhood drug store concept; and 10 Shopko Hometown locations, a smaller-concept store developed to meet the needs of smaller communities.

Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Omaha, Neb., Pamida carries a wide variety of general merchandise including apparel, home and electronics, seasonal items, toys, housewares and groceries. The company also operates 132 pharmacies and is a health care leader in each community.