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BOISE, ID-Over the next year, Albertson’s Inc. intends to accelerate the disposal of surplus property and close about 165 under performing and surplus stores throughout 25 states, including Washington.

The cuts are aimed at reducing operating costs as the nation’s second-largest food and drug retailer continues to struggle with its 1999 acquisition of American Stores, its new chairman and chief executive officer, Larry Johnston says. The exact number of jobs to be eliminated and specific stores to be closed has not yet been finalized.

In announcing the news, Johnston said: “We are continuing our in-depth operations review. The major actions announced today are just the first in a series of long overdue steps that are necessary to begin unleashing the potential of this company.”

Albertson’s currently has Washington-based surplus properties listed in Port Orchard, at the corner of Sedgwick and Sidney, Lacey, at the corner of Lacey and Carpenter and Puyallup, on 160th and Meridian. The company lists a total of 82 Albertson’s stores in the state.

This week’s announcement deviates a fair amount from initiatives proposed shortly after the 1999 merger with American Stores. At that time, growth plans for the new combined company were to build approximately 1,850 new food stores, stand-alone drug stores, and fuel centers over the next 5 years. In addition, the company was expecting to remodel about 730 existing stores over the same 5 years.

But when Johnston came on board as CEO in late April, he stressed five strategic imperatives: aggressive cost and process control; maximization of return on invested capital; customer-focused approach to growth; company-wide focus on technology and energized associates.

“Even with the store closures and the associated lost revenues, we expect our growth momentum to continue through a combination of improved same-store sales, new store openings and strategic ‘fill-in’ acquisitions, allowing us to reach $38 billion in annual revenues this fiscal year,” Johnston says.

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