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    Albertsons Pursues Austin

    Supermarket giant will invest $100 million over the next four years.

    BOISE, Idaho -- Albertsons Inc., one of the nation's largest supermarket chains, said it will invest more than $100 million in new store and fuel center construction over the next four years in the Austin, Texas market.

    The Idaho grocery, which operates some 2,300 outlets in 31 states, has opted to pull out of certain markets, including Houston, and concentrate its investment on markets where it enjoys a strong presence.

    In the latest move, the company said it plans to plunk down $19 million in the Austin market this year, nearly four times last year's investment.

    "Austin is a strategic growth market for Albertsons," said company CEO and Chairman Larry Johnston. "Albertsons' increased store base will create additional jobs and new business opportunities for Austin residents."

    He added the company will unveil new marketing and merchandising plans in the upcoming months to bolster its market share. Albertsons will invest an estimated $20 million in 2003 and more than double that investment in 2004 with $44 million. Further plans call for an estimated $24 million investment in 2005.

    Albertsons entered the Austin market in 1989 and currently operates 14 stores with 1,400 workers. "This significant investment commitment in the Austin market clearly demonstrates that Albertsons is committed to growing in this area," said Scott Hays, area vice president."

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