US retailer Supervalu has today (28 July) sold the majority of its Albertsons stores in Utah to Associated Food Stores in a bid to pay down some of its debt.

The sale includes 36 stores, with the exception of three St George-area outlets, which will remain Albertsons and continue to be operated by Supervalu. The deal will result in after-tax proceeds of about US$150m.

The West Bridgewater-based grocery chain said it is also seeking a buyer for its two Albertsons stores in Orem, Utah and two outlets in West Jordan, Utah.

Associated Food Stores said it will rename the 36 purchased stores, and expects to interview and offer employment to most Albertsons associates.

Supervalu's Salt Lake City distribution centre will remain with the business and will remain open to serve Albertsons stores in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

"While this was a difficult decision due to the impact on our associates and the Utah community, the sale of these stores will allow the company to focus on our greatest growth opportunities while at the same time monetize non-strategic assets for debt paydown," said Supervalu CEO Craig Herkert.

"Albertsons has a long history of serving the Utah marketplace, and the decision to sell these stores was made only after careful analysis and deliberation."

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close this autumn.

Albertsons was acquired by Supervalu in 2006 and employs around 3,000 staff throughout the state of Utah.