Food 4 Less
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|Products||Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor, bulk foods|
|Website||food4less.com foodsco.net myfood4less.com|
Food 4 Less is a national warehouse store grocery chain, currently owned by Kroger. It is a no-frills grocery store where the customers bag their own groceries at the checkout. Kroger operates Food 4 Less stores in California, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. In markets that Kroger does not have the rights to the Food 4 Less name, it operates as Foods Co.
There are other stores scattered throughout the United States with the Food 4 Less name, part of franchise agreements with various wholesalers, including Unified Western Grocers and Associated Wholesale Grocers Midwest. These stores have particular penetration in central and northern California. The Food 4 Less name was previously used by Fleming Companies, Inc., but as Fleming exited various regions and ultimately collapsed, the rights to the name went to wholesalers who picked up some of Fleming's former customers.
The Food 4 Less name and logo was originally conceived in the 1930s by Lou Falley, who developed a chain of stores both in the Food 4 Less name (with the warehouse/no frills format) and the Falley's name. The Falley's stores were full service supermarkets, while the Food 4 Less stores were warehouse stores, where labor costs were cut by having the groceries stocked to the shelves in the original cases, rather than stacking individual items. These stores were located throughout eastern Kansas and parts of northwestern Missouri. Over the years, the number of Falley's store diminished, and were replaced with Food 4 Less stores. Falley's also franchised Food 4 Less in states where it did not operate.
Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies acquired Falley's in 1987. In a period of consolidation for the grocery industry, Food 4 Less merged into Ralphs; Fred Meyer acquired Ralphs in 1997, and was acquired by Kroger a year later. In 2015, Food 4 Less exited the Las Vegas market and Nevada entirely. Six of the stores were converted to sister store Smith's, a prominent grocery chain owned by Kroger in the Las Vegas area. The remaining Food 4 Less stores were simply shut down.
In 1998, Fred Meyer sold Falley's and the midwest Food 4 Less stores to Associated Wholesale Grocers of Kansas City. The warehouse type stores were slowly phased out in favor of full service Food 4 Less stores with a new logo and format.
In January 2006, the AWG-owned Falley's and Food 4 Less stores located in Kansas were combined with sister company Homeland Stores, based in Edmond, Oklahoma. The company changed the names of the Food 4 Less stores, which it can't use beyond Kansas and Missouri, to AWG brands such as Price Chopper.
The company uses the Foods Co name in Northern California, where Kroger is bound by an agreement between Falley's and grocer Nugget Markets, Inc.. One Food 4 Less store in Northern California is managed and operated by Nugget. Kroger does not have any administrative control over the single Nugget Food 4 Less store.
Nugget's Food 4 Less is limited by its agreement with Fleming in its ability to advertise in circulars. Kroger's Food 4 Less circulars will feature individual products on sale whereas Nugget's Food 4 Less circulars only promote sales events and customer testimony. Ad prices from the Kroger Food 4 Less chain are not honored.
The Nugget Food 4 Less store also features a different selection of products than the Kroger Food 4 Less stores due to Nugget's pooling of resources from its upscale Nugget Market stores. Marketing and administration of the Nugget Food 4 Less store is handled through the Nugget Market Corporate Office in Woodland, California, and any requests for other Food 4 Less stores will be deferred to the Kroger Corporate Office in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is unclear whether Nugget Markets and Kroger will continue the Fleming relationship when the franchise agreement expires.
Nugget operated a total of three stores in Northern California; in Cameron Park, Vallejo, and Woodland. In 2014, the Food 4 Less in Cameron Park was converted into Fork Lift, a new store concept by Nugget. The Food 4 Less in Vallejo was shuttered on May 15, 2016, leaving the Woodland location as Nugget's sole remaining Food 4 Less store.
Fleming was another franchisee of the Food 4 Less name. In early 2003, Fleming filed for bankruptcy, causing the company to place all Fleming owned Food 4 Less stores up for bids to other national grocers. Three stores in Utah were purchased by Albertsons, who retained two stores. The two stores kept the Food 4 Less name until January 2005, when the names changed to the Albertsons owned Super Saver name. Another store in Pinole, California became a FoodMaxx, a price-impact store owned by Save Mart Supermarkets.
In Oregon, only one former Fleming store remained, in Salem which was part of the Mega Foods local chain of four stores. The remaining store was converted into Mega Foods. An independently run former Fleming store in Portland was closed in January 2013.
PAQ Inc., the parent company of Hawaii-based Times Supermarkets, is also another franchisee of the Food 4 Less name with stores in northern California. The franchisee operates Food 4 Less stores in Atascadero, Ceres, Lodi, Los Banos, Manteca, Paso Robles, Salinas, San Luis Obispo and Stockton. Kroger also does not have any administrative control over the PAQ Inc. Food 4 Less stores. The franchisee also operates Rancho San Miguel Market, a supermarket specializing in Mexican groceries.
Gongco Foods operates seven franchised Food 4 Less stores in central California. They are also not affiliated with Kroger.
- The Kroger Company. Kroger.com. Accessed May 2011.
- Building an Empire - Supermarket News
- "Food 4 Less pulling out of the Las Vegas market". Vegas Inc. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- Fred Meyer Adding 98 Stores in Series of Deals - the New York Times
- "Nugget Market introduces Fork Lift store concept in Cameron Park". Sacramento Business Journal. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
- Raskin-Zrihen, By Rachel. "Business - Vallejo’s Food 4 Less closing." Times-Herald (Vallejo, CA) 11 May 2016, News: 1. NewsBank. Web. 13 May 2016.
- About Food 4 Less Central Valley