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    Albertsons Focused on Southwest

    Supermarket retailer announces $500-million expansion plan.

    PHOENIX -- Supermarket chain Albertsons Inc., which has been rolling out fueling centers in major convenience store markets across the United States, said it planned to spend about $500 million in its southwest division through 2005 as part of a dual branding campaign.

    The investment will translate into thousands of new jobs and fuel both local and state economies in Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas, the company said.

    The company also said it completed the conversion of its Phoenix store base to Albertsons-Osco combination food and drug stores. The project converts all of Albertsons 36 traditional food stores to the combination format, Reuters reported. Many are expected to include fuel centers.

    Combined with its 59 freestanding Osco Drugstores in Phoenix, this increases the total drug store count 61 percent to 95 units. Phoenix is the fifth market in which Albertsons has developed dual-branded stores, the report said.

    In May, Albertsons said it would spend more than $1 billion in Southern California for new stores and store remodeling to strengthen its position in the region.

    In May, Albertson's said it would spend more than $1 billion in Southern California for new stores and store remodeling to strengthen its position in the region.

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