Tracing Jewel’s history as Chicago’s hometown grocer

Jewel was born in Chicago in 1899, and has positioned itself all through its history as a uniquely Chicago company. But for the reason that Eighties, the company has undergone a collection of acquisitions, paralleling consolidation within the grocery trade as an entire.

It’s owned by Boise-based Albertsons, the second-largest conventional grocery retailer within the nation, after first-place Cincinnati-based Kroger.

If Kroger succeeds in plans to amass Albertsons, Jewel will full a change from a one-man horse-drawn wagon supply service to part of a grocery behemoth solely rivaled in measurement by Walmart.

The proposed Kroger-Albertsons deal, which stands to face heavy scrutiny from federal regulators, has raised the eyebrows of some antitrust consultants and politicians who’re involved about its potential affect on grocery costs at a time when the price of meals has already skyrocketed.

Kroger, for its half, says it would take the chance to decrease grocery costs. Kroger has mentioned it has no plans to vary the names of Jewel shops, however shops which can be bought off to different firms on the behest of federal regulators could be on the mercy of their new homeowners.

Frank Skiff, the son of a grocer, leaves his wagon route company job to launch a door-to-door supply service with a horse, wagon and $700 of working capital, in keeping with Tribune archives.

Skiff enlists his brother-in-law, Frank Ross, as a associate a few years later. They promote espresso, tea, spices and extracts from door to door, giving out premium coupons as they promote.

“When enough coupons had been saved, the housewife had her choice of a kitchen utensil, china or some other household item,” the Tribune wrote in 1949, describing Jewel’s early days on the event of its fiftieth anniversary.

By 1915, the company is serving greater than 850 supply routes and doing $8 million in business. The subsequent year, the company begins roasting espresso from coast to coast, in San Francisco, New Orleans and Hoboken.

The U.S. entry into World War I causes business difficulties for Jewel. “Routemen left for the war, raw materials and supplies were hard to get, the Hoboken plant was taken over for war work, costs rose faster than prices, and profits disappeared,” the Tribune wrote.

Jewel turns issues round, with gross sales reaching practically $17 million in 1929.

Jewel buys greater than 70 Chicago grocery shops owned by the Canadian-owned Loblaw Groceterias Inc., marking its entrance into the world of bricks-and-mortar meals retail.

Employees at Jewel’s meals shops vote within the first election held by the Chicago regional labor board below Section 7(a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act, which assured collective bargaining rights for employees, the Tribune reported.

Jewel employees vote to retain their current collective bargaining settlement moderately than be part of the Retail Clerks union, a precursor to the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents employees at Jewel-Osco right this moment.

Fifty years after its first wagon supply routes launch, Jewel is working greater than 1,800 such routes throughout 43 states. Jewel has additionally vastly expanded its retail operations, with greater than 150 shops.

Jewel acquires Osco Drug Inc. in 1961 and the primary Jewel-Osco mixed shops open within the Sixties. A 1963 Tribune article describes one such retailer, situated at 1425 Morse Ave.: “Under a single roof, homemakers can buy their groceries, select from among some 2,000 different drug store items, have prescriptions filled by skilled Osco pharmacists, then have the convenience of one checkout for all purchases.”

The Rogers Park Jewel-Osco additionally contains a kitchen providing prepared-to-order Cantonese meals, a beauty and wonder care bar with a cosmetician available, a digital camera store and a “do-it-yourself center stocked with paint, tolls and electrical supplies.”

Shares of Jewel Companies Inc. are listed on the Midwest and New York Stock Exchanges.

A side of beef at the Jewel Tea store is displayed with James B. Nance, chairman of the National Live Stock and Meat board; Charles B. Shuman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation; and Franklin J. Lunding, chairman of Jewel Tea Co., in 1964. The food store chain held a record-size beef sale in its Chicago stores.

Facing monetary losses, Jewel cuts ties with its supply service, promoting off that a part of its business to a cooperative run by Jewel routemen themselves, who will be capable to purchase their native routes, stock and a share within the business. It’s the tip of an period.

“The ‘Jewel Tea man,’ who often sold his wares to an entire neighborhood of klatsching housewives, is becoming an anomaly among the supermarkets, fast food franchises, and convenience stores,” the Tribune wrote.

At this time, greater than 1,000 routemen nonetheless work for Jewel throughout 40 states, promoting groceries and catalog gadgets produced principally in Barrington from door to door.

Customers line up at the Jewel Food Store at 3630 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago on Aug. 14, 1980.

Jewel is purchased by American Stores in a hostile takeover. After an all-night bargaining session in June, American Stores reaches an settlement to buy Jewel in a deal valued at $1.1 billion. “American Stores lands the Jewel for its crown,” the Tribune wrote. The merger makes the company the biggest drug retailer and the third-largest grocery company within the nation, behind Safeway and Kroger.

Albertsons buys American Stores in 1999 in a $12 billion deal that creates the second-largest grocery chain within the nation — second solely to Kroger. The Federal Trade Commission requires Albertsons to promote greater than 140 shops as a part of the deal, which is the biggest retail divestiture within the company’s history on the time.

Jewel employee Sue Anderson and deli manager Lisa Burke prepare pizza for baking in Arlington Heights on Sept. 6, 1991.

Jewel will get acquired once more when a consortium led by Minnesota-based SuperValu and CVS attain an settlement to buy Albertsons for $9.8 billion in money and stock and the idea of virtually $8 billion in debt. The deal positions SuperValu to turn into the second-largest grocer within the nation; it will get greater than 1,100 Albertsons-owned shops within the transaction, together with Jewel. At the time, Jewel has an nearly 44% market share within the Chicago space.

An investor group led by personal fairness agency Cerberus Capital Management acquires greater than 650 Albertsons shops as a part of the deal, which breaks up the grocer.

Supervalu’s chief govt, Jeff Noddle, tells the Tribune the company gained’t inform Jewel patrons what to placed on retailer cabinets. “Food is a very regional thing,” he mentioned. “We don’t think you can sit in one location and understand what customers want to buy in Providence or in Chicago, and that is the way we market our stores.”

The struggling SuperValu offloads its Albertsons and Jewel shops, together with different grocery chains, to an investor group led by Cerberus. The $3.3 billion deal consists of $100 million and the idea of $3.2 billion in debt.

Kroger, the biggest conventional grocery company within the nation, publicizes plans to purchase Albertsons, the second-largest such retailer, for $20 billion. The proposed deal stands to face a excessive diploma of regulatory scrutiny.

Back to top button