BOISE -- Albertsons cut the ribbon on three newly renovated grocery stores in Boise Wednesday. But, company leaders say it's not just about looking different, it's about being better.
It started Wednesday morning when Albertsons CEO Bob Miller, its Intermountain Division President Susan Morris, and the Idaho Gov. Butch Otter cut the ribbon on the original, but now remodeled, store at 17th and State Street.
"Today we're celebrating Albertsons being an Idaho-based company once again," said Morris.
Back in the 1990s, Albertsons became one of the largest American grocery operators in the nation. That changed after Supervalu bought Albertsons in 2006. But, in March, after years of being run by an out-of-state company, all Albertsons stores were consolidated back under the roof of Albertsons LLC, headquartered in Boise.
"This is where it all started, in this store, in 1939," said Morris. "This is the site of Joe Albertson's first store. This is home to us."
"We love you," said Gov. Otter, talking to Miller and Albertsons as a whole. "We love what you mean to the state, and we love what you mean to the people of Idaho."
Miller has more than 30 years with the company, starting part-time as a teenager. He left for a time, but came back to help with Albertsons LLC.
"Welcome home, Bob! We're glad to have you," said Otter.
Miller says his division presidents, like him, don't just know business, they know the grocery business.
"They all started working at Albertsons, all eight of them, when they were young. They worked their way up, and they're running the company," said Miller.
That's a part of the company's new local focus. Miller and Morris hope that, along with lower prices and better produce, they can help turn Albertsons back into one of the main economic drivers in this area.
"We have a long way to go," says Miller. "We bought these stores back in March. We would not say they were first-class grocery stores, but thanks to all of our hard-working associates, we're getting much better every day. We want to earn the customers business and work hard at it, so we're doing that."
Analysts thought when the sale happened back in March that it would mean stores closing in Idaho. That hasn't happened yet. In fact, Morris says they've hired 900 Idahoans since March, and are still looking to hire more.