Andronico’s and A.G. Ferrari saved from the brink

A.G. Ferrari’s Solano Avenue store which closed in April

After both declaring bankruptcy earlier this year, Andronico’s and A.G Ferrari have found a savior and look to be out of immediate crisis, according to Chronicle columnist Andrew Ross.

A.G. Ferrari, which was forced to close its Solano Avenue store in April after filing Chapter 11 is, as of Tuesday, officially out of bankruptcy. Danielle Caponi, A.G. Ferrari’s director of marketing, told Ross the stores are ordering new stock but, for a while, “it was touch-and-go.”

The Italian delicatessen chain, which was founded in San Jose in 1919, was bought by Renwood Opportunities Fund, a $50 million turnaround specialist in Seattle formed by Rosewood Private Investments and Renovo Capital. Former president of Whole Foods Market John Clougher will take over the reins as CEO.

Renwood is also poised to take over Andronico’s on Thursday for a reported $16 million. The 82-year-old supermarket chain, which was founded in Berkeley, filed for bankruptcy in August listing debts of between $10 million and $50 million. Four of the seven existing Andronico’s stores are in Berkeley: on Telegraph, Shattuck, University and Solano.

The two companies will be operated separately. Full details can be found in Ross’s column.

Andronico’s files for bankruptcy [08.22.11]
Andronico’s plans recapitalization with new lenders and investors [05.25.11]
Four Berkeley Andronico’s face difficult conditions [05.24.11]
A.G. Ferrari closes Berkeley store, company bankrupt [04.05.11]

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  • Alan Tobey

    Though the new owners will surely deny it for now, it  seems like the inevitable “rationalization” of Ferrari and Andronico’s as investments points to their eventual integration under a common banner.

    The difficulty with Andronico’s has been its loss of focused identity as a something-special general supermarket, while the difficulty with Ferrari has been its TOO focused Italian identity that doesn’t attract enough general shoppers in most locations.  Both have had strong focuses on fresh-prepared foods of quality which appear to be the more profitable parts of their operations.

    But put them together and you potentially get a more unique “Italian village market” identity that seems very leveragable. Add a greater focus on local sourcing (salumi as well as produce) and you get something closer to New York’s ambitious Eataly (an outgrowth of the Slow Food movement).  With Bay Area roots and sensibilities.

    The parallel example is the consistent regional success of Latino supermarkets like our own Mi Tierra — a great place to go for “ethnic” specialties but with enough mainstream items to serve non-hispanic needs as well.  These markets compete well with Safeway et al. precisely BECAUSE of their specialized-but-general balance and not despite it.

    So I expect we’ll  see a common rebranding and relaunch, fewer but more focused and competitive stores, and a potentially welcome addition to our local food scene.   Makes me hungry just thinking about the possibilities.

  • Joan

    I have missed Andronico’s and was so happy to arrive to fully stocked shelves Monday. I’m sorry, but I don’t like Safeway. Maybe when their north Berkeley and Albany stores are rebuilt they’ll be better, but for now they’re dirty and confusing. I admit I’m not the ideal supermarket customer, since I buy stuff, including meat, at Costco, almost all my produce and some other things at Monterey Market (talk about dirty! and crowded), cheese and tea at Country Cheese on Hopkins, and poultry and some meat at Magnani’s. I have even been known to shop at Whole Foods in Mill Valley.

  • You can’t really blame Safeway. It’s not like they haven’t been trying.

  • Jeff