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Growth by acquisition and the performance of large food retailers


  • Bruce Bjornson

    (University of Missouri, 125-B Mumford Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-6200. E-mail:

  • Michael E. Sykuta

    (University of Missouri, 143-B Mumford Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-6200. E-mail:


The latter 1990s witnessed rapid growth among the largest retail food chain companies, much of it through acquisitions. An explanatory motive is that grocery chains could achieve greater scale economies and operating efficiencies, and increase their bargaining power with packaged food manufacturer-suppliers. This article begins to examine whether the largest retailers are realizing the promised financial rewards associated with this growth trend. We examine the performance of the three largest U.S. food retailers, Albertson's, Inc., The Kroger Company, and Safeway Inc., over 7 fiscal years beginning in calendar year 1993 and ending in fiscal year 1999, a period that covers the recent increase in acquisition activity. Overall, we find only modest evidence that the financial returns to the rapid growth strategies of the three largest food retailers have begun to be realized through fiscal year 1999. [EconLit citations: G390, G340, Q130] © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Bjornson & Michael E. Sykuta, 2002. "Growth by acquisition and the performance of large food retailers," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 263-281.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:agribz:v:18:y:2002:i:3:p:263-281
    DOI: 10.1002/agr.10024

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bradley, Michael & Desai, Anand & Kim, E. Han, 1988. "Synergistic gains from corporate acquisitions and their division between the stockholders of target and acquiring firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-40, May.
    2. repec:bla:joares:v:31:y:1993:i:2:p:190-215 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fisher, Franklin M & McGowan, John J, 1983. "On the Misuse of Accounting Rates of Return to Infer Monopoly Profits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 82-97, March.
    4. Neibergs, J. Shannon, 1998. "Macroeconomic Conditions And Agribusiness Profitability: An Analysis Using Pooled Data," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 1(01).
    5. Waring, Geoffrey F, 1996. "Industry Differences in the Persistence of Firm-Specific Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1253-1265, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. John M. Connor, 2003. "The Changing Structure Of Global Food Markets: Dimensions, Effects, And Policy Implications," Working Papers 03-02, Purdue University, College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    2. Martinez, Stephen W., 2007. "The U.S. Food Marketing System: Recent Developments, 1997-2006," Economic Research Report 55962, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

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