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  • Von's Groceteria (1906–1928)
  • Von's Grocery Company. (1932–1970)
IndustryRetail / grocery
Founded1906 (116 years ago) (1906) in Los Angeles, California
FounderCharles Von der Ahe
HeadquartersFullerton, California, U.S.
Number of locations
Area served
Key people
ProductsBakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor, floral
RevenueUS$2.6 billion
Number of employees
Increase 44,000 (2021)
ParentIndependent (1906–1969 and 1986–1997)
Household Finance Corporation (1969–1986)
Safeway (1997–2015)
Albertsons (2015–present)

Vons is a Southern California and Southern Nevada supermarket chain owned by Albertsons. It is headquartered in Fullerton, California,[1] and operates stores under the Vons and Pavilions banners. It was owned by Safeway Inc. and headquartered in Arcadia, California, before that company was acquired by and folded into Albertsons along with all of their subsidiaries, including Vons.



Charles Von der Ahe opened a 20-foot wide store named Von's Groceteria in downtown Los Angeles, California, in 1906. The business had grown to 87 stores by 1928, when he sold the operation to MacMarr Stores. MacMarr was acquired by M.B. Skaggs' Safeway in 1930. In 1932, his sons Theodore and Wilfred Von der Ahe restarted the Von's Grocery Company.[2]

In 1948, Von's opened a pioneering store which offered self-service, pre-packaged produce, meat, and deli items. By 1958, it had doubled in size to 27 stores, the third-largest grocery chain in the Greater Los Angeles Area[3] In 1960 it acquired the sixth-largest, competitor Shopping Bag, a merger that was challenged by the Federal Trade Commission on antitrust grounds. In 1966 the United States Supreme Court ruled against Von's in United States v. Von's Grocery Co. (384 U.S. 270), forcing a re-divestiture of the stores, which were eventually sold to Fisher Foods.[3] The Von der Ahe family sold the chain to Household Finance Corporation in 1969.[2][4] In 1970, Vons had 128 stores, making it the second largest supermarket chain in southern California behind Safeway.


In 1984, Vons was named official supermarket of the 1984 Summer Olympics.

In 1985, William Davila was named president and CEO of Vons, the first Mexican American to be CEO of an American supermarket chain.[5] Prior to his appointment, Davila worked for 37 years at Vons before becoming CEO. He opened Tianguis in 1986, catering to Hispanic consumers,[6] and was well received as the company's television spokesman, starring in commercials in both English and Spanish during his tenure. He retired in 1999.

In 1986, Household spun off Vons Companies in a leveraged buyout.[7] To recapitalize itself, Vons merged with Detroit, Michigan-based Allied Supermarkets and sold off its assets outside California.[8] Vons was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1987.

In October 1985, Vons introduced Pavilions, a "combination store" concept which offered a wider variety of upscale products as well as pharmacy and other non-food products and services.[7][9] Some stores that were smaller were branded Pavilions Place.

In 1988, Safeway sold all of its stores in southern California and southern Nevada to Vons in exchange for an ownership stake.[10] On April 8, 1997, Safeway acquired Vons for stock and Vons became a subsidiary of Safeway.[11]

Vons store (Woodland Hills, CA) before closing and reopening late 2015 as Haggen, then shutting down and reopening in 2017 as Bristol Farms

In March 2014, Cerberus Capital Management (which also owns rival grocery chain Albertsons) agreed to terms to purchase Vons' parent, Safeway.[12] Cerberus' plans to merge the chains would likely result in store closures, especially with both Vons and Albertsons having a significant presence in Southern California.[13] In late 2014, the FTC mandated that the new Albertson's/Safeway merger sell off almost 200 stores to allow for sufficient competition in markets where both Safeway and Albertson's stores had existed in price rivalry. One of the key buyers was Bellingham, Washington-based Haggen grocers[14] which rebranded the newly purchased stores in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Nevada in early 2015[15] only to sell back the affected stores just months later after Haggen was forced into bankruptcy as a result of purchasing the new stores. Haggen was soon after acquired by Albertson's.[16][17][18]

Lifestyle branding[edit]

On April 18, 2005, Safeway began a $100 million brand re-positioning campaign labeled "Ingredients for life." This was done in an attempt to differentiate itself from its competitors, and to increase brand involvement. Steve Burd described it as "branding the shopping experience."

The launch included a redesigned logo, a new slogan "Ingredients for life" alongside a four-panel life icon to be used throughout stores and advertising, and a web application called "FoodFlex" to improve consumer nutrition. Many locations are being converted to the "Lifestyle" format. The new look was designed by Michigan-based PPC Design. In addition to the "inviting decor with warm ambiance and subdued lighting," the move required heavy redesign of store layout, new employee uniforms, sushi and olive bars, and the addition of in-store Starbucks kiosks (with cupholders on grocery carts). The change also involved differentiating the company from competitors with promotions based on the company's extensive loyalty card database. At the end of 2004, there were 142 "Lifestyle" format stores in the United States and Canada, with plans to open or remodel another 300 stores with this type of theme the following year. "Lifestyle format" stores have seen significantly higher average weekly sales than their other stores. By the end of 2006, shares were up proving that this rebranding campaign had a major impact on sale figures.


  • Vons is Value (mid-to-late 1990s)
  • Delivering Our Best (late 1990s-2005)
  • Ingredients for life (2005–2015)
  • It's Just Better (2015–present)


  1. ^ Cloud, Kristen (March 6, 2015). "Vendors Hear From Albertsons Southern California Leadership". theshelbyreport.com. The Shelby Report.
  2. ^ a b "The Vons Companies, Inc". FundingUniverse.com.
  3. ^ a b United States v. Von's Grocery Co., 384 U.S. 270 (U.S. 1966).
  4. ^ "Von's Grocery And Household Finance to Merge: Agreement in Principle Calls For Exchange of Stock Valued at $120 Million Von's Holders Must Approve". Wall Street Journal. June 6, 1969. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  5. ^ Yoshihara, Nancy (January 16, 1985). "Davila Becomes Vons President, Replaces Fahey". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Puzo, Daniel P. (July 17, 1986). "Latinos Targeted for Mexican Import Venture". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ a b Groves, Martha (January 6, 1986). "Buy-Out Completed : New Vons Ownership Sold on Super-Stores". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Anderson, Harry & McMahon, Patrick (January 1, 1987). "Vons to Merge With Michigan Chain, Go Public : Agreement Is Reached for Deal Worth $700 Million With Allied Supermarkets". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Bush, G. M. (May 8, 1985). "Vons to Build $8-Million 'Super' Store : Garden Grove Market to House Pizza Parlor, Pharmacy and Deli". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ Groves, Martha (August 30, 1988). "The Wait Is Over: Vons Acquires Safeway Stores". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ "Safeway Fact Book 2006" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Albertsons Owner to Buy Safeway for More than $9 Billion". NBC News. March 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  13. ^ Smith, Kevin (April 8, 2014). "Merger of Safeway, Albertsons likely to result in store closures". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  14. ^ Li, Shan (December 26, 2014). "Haggen chain to buy 146 Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons, Safeway stores". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ Harvey, Katherine P. (February 12, 2015). "Haggen to make California debut in March". San Diego Union-Tribune.
  16. ^ Madans, Hannah & Luna, Nancy (September 9, 2015). "Haggen bankruptcy: Failure is the 'fastest' in modern grocery store history". Orange County Register.
  17. ^ Li, Shan & Khouri, Andrew (September 24, 2015). "Grocery chain Haggen is leaving California, Nevada and Arizona". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ Smith, Kevin (September 22, 2015). "Haggen is now trying to sell supermarket assets back to Albertsons, Safeway". San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

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