Smart & Final caters to caterers -- as well as small businesses, restaurants, and individual households in the western US. Its about 250 non-membership warehouse stores stock groceries, party supplies, paper products, cleaning supplies, and more, in bulk sizes and quantities. The stores operate under the Smart & Final and Cash & Carry names in urban and suburban areas in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as northern Mexico. (It sold its Henry's Farmers Markets and Sun Harvest stores to Sprouts in 2011.) Founded in 1871 in Los Angeles, it later took the names of owners J. S. Smart and H. D. Final. The chain is owned by an affiliate of the private equity firm Apollo Management.
On the strength of the recovering economy, Smart & Final cashed out of its investment in the 34 Henry's Farmers Market and nine Sun Harvest stores(acquired in 2007). As part of the deal, which closed in April, owner Apollo Management became the majority owner of the combined Sprouts-Henry's company, while remaining the principal equity owner in Smart & Final.
France's Casino Guichard-Perrachon sold its majority stake in Smart & Final to Apollo Management for $813 million in May 2007. Following the ownership change, former Ralphs Grocery executive George Golleher succeeded Etienne Snollaerts as CEO of the company. In October of the same year Apollo acquired the Henry's Farmers Markets and Sun Harvest stores in California and Texas from Whole Foods Market for about $166 million.
Under Apollo's ownership, Smart & Final has been opening larger stores, including more than 30 under the Smart & Final Extra banner in California. Smart & Final Extra stores (10,000 to 15,000 square feet) are larger than traditional Smart & Final locations and house expanded selections of products for both business and household customers. The warehouse chain has also been exploring new markets, but is quick to pull the plug when they don't meet its expectations. The company closed five Denver-area SmartCo Foods stores that opened in summer 2010 in mid-December, citing disappointing sales at the new locations. The failed experiment cost an estimated $40 million to $70 million.
Smart & Final also operates about 50 stores under the Smart Foodservice Cash & Carry name. The stores carry a broad range (more than 13,000 products) of restaurant-quality food, foodservice supplies, and culinary equipment. Smart & Final also operates about a dozen stores in Mexico under a joint venture agreement with the operators of Calimax, a major grocery store chain there.
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