What Do Save Mart’s New Owners Say About the Grocery Chain’s Future?

Regional grocery giant Save Mart’s newest owner has an extensive background in food stores, spanning everything from customer-facing retail to wholesaling.

And the new ownership says it plans to maintain the Modesto-based grocery store’s mission in the Valley.

The purchase of the 194-store Save Mart Companies marks a continued southern movement for Canada-based Jim Pattison Group.

The Save Mart Companies includes Save Mart, Lucky, and FoodMaxx.

Jennifer Shelton, director of public relations for Save Mart, said the group’s investments demonstrates the company’s commitment to the area. Requests made to Pattison were not returned Monday morning. Shelton was speaking on behalf of Pattison.

“The Save Mart Companies’ dedication to their hometown of Modesto, the Central Valley, and spanning all of Northern California and Western Nevada, has never been stronger and is reflected in the investments they are making throughout the region including the final stages of Modesto Headquarters remodel as well as many ongoing store projects in multiple counties throughout the Central Valley,” a spokesperson with Save Mart said.

Pattison Keeps Regional Leadership as it Expands South

Pattison will retain Save Mart’s executive chairman, Shane Sampson, along with the rest of the leadership team. Sampson has been executive chairman since 2022. That year, Kingswood Capital Management purchased Save Mart, then sold it to Pattison two years later.

The United Food & Commercial Workers 8 — the union representing grocery store employees with Save Mart — said the grocery store company would honor workers contracts until those contracts expire later this year, according to a news release.

Save Mart intends to have a new contract for workers to vote on before that contract expires, the release stated.

In 2021, Pattison made its grocery store foray outside Canada when it purchased Oregon-based Roth’s Fresh Markets. Pattison also kept in-house leadership in that acquisition, promoting longtime employee Tim Jennings to president after the company’s previous president announced his retirement.

In addition to Save Mart and Roth’s, Pattison also owns Save-On Foods and Buy-Low Foods, both in Canada.

Pattison has been known to change a store’s mission. Pattison converted PriceSmart Foods to its flagship brand Save-On in the mid-2000s. In 2023, those stores were being renovated to serve Asian fare, according to grocery store news website Produce Blue Book.

Produce Blue Book reports each chain has its own president and management with at least some autonomy.

“Each business in the Food Group has its own president and management team with the goal of enhancing synergies and reducing costs to better compete with national grocery chains, while leaving intact the unique value each retail nameplate brings to the company and its customers,” the story read.

Guinness Book of World Records, Great Wolf Lodge … Pattison Is More than Grocery

Holding company Pattison’s portfolio goes beyond food. Considered by some to be Canada’s Warren Buffett, Pattison got his start in 1961 in the auto industry. Pattison also has been in the advertising and publishing business, having owned The News Group before selling it in 2018.

Pattison also owns Ripley Entertainment, including their flagship publication, the Guinness Book of World Records. It also owns trucking giant Peterbilt Pacific and water park Great Wolf Lodge.

A Great Wolf Lodge was planned for Visalia, but the company pulled the plug on the project in 2023.