SuperValu has remained silent on speculation that it could look to exit other markets in the US, after the supermarket operator announced its sale of 33 stores in Utah.

The disposal, which is expected to generate proceeds of about US$150m, will see Associated Food Stores take over operations at the outlets.

Speaking during a conference call to analysts, Supervalu CEO Craig Herkert refused to rule out further market exits.

Herkert said that the company had decided to sell its operations in and around Salt Lake City, despite the fact that the stores were profitable, because the Albertsons format had lost its market share leadership.

“The interesting thing about our company is that we can perform really well in small markets [such as SLC] as well as dense urban markets, we have some very successful strategies for both… Our withdrawal from SLC was more a market share issue,” he revealed.

Supervalu had previously indicated that it expects to close around 25 stores annually as it prunes the Albertsons store portfolio. Management said that moves to exit a market – such as today’s announcement – would be in addition to this figure.