Smart & Final

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Smart & Final is a chain of warehouse-style food and supply stores based in Commerce, California, which developed through a series of mergers and expansions. The oldest of the combined companies, Hellman-Haas Grocery, was founded in 1871 in Los Angeles. The company has expanded to over 300 stores in the Western United States and 15 in northwestern Mexico as of year end 2017.[2] While Smart & Final stores target both the food-service and household markets, the company also operates Smart Foodservice (formerly known as Cash & Carry), which market to foodservice professionals.

Smart & Final
IndustryGrocery store
Founded1871, as Hellman, Haas Grocery Co.
United States
Area served
California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and northern Mexico
OwnerApollo Global Management
Number of employees
7,570[1] (2017)
SubsidiariesCash & Carry
Smart & Final store in West Los Angeles, California


Founded in 1871, by Herman W. Hellman (brother of Isaias W. Hellman), Jacob Haas and Bernard Cohn, as Hellman-Haas Grocery Co. Purchased by Abraham Haas (the original owner of the Haas Building in Downtown Los Angeles) and Jacob Baruch, and renamed Haas, Baruch & Co in 1889. By 1895, following introduction of one of the first private label store brands, Iris, the grocer's sales reached $2 million. The business continued to expand with Southern California's growing population for the next two decades.

Founded in 1912, the Santa Ana Grocery Company mainly supplied feed and grain to local farmers. In 1914, J. S. "Jim" Smart, a banker from Saginaw, Michigan, and H. D. "Hildane" Final bought the company and changed the name to Smart & Final Wholesale Grocers. From 1876 to 1913, Jim Smart had been involved with several wholesale grocers in the greater Saginaw area, including Lee, Cady & Smart and Smart & Symons with his brother-in-law, J. W. Symons of Symons Brothers. By 1919, annual sales for Smart & Final had reached $10 million. During the fierce competition among expanding grocers in the 1920s, the company introduced a self-serve concept to replace reliance on clerks to fetch goods. This was called "cash and carry."[3]

In 1953, Smart & Final merged with Haas, Baruch & Co. The current organization is the result of several further mergers, one acquisition (by Thriftimart in 1984), and one spin-off and public offering (1991).[4] The stores in Mexico are operated under a joint venture with Calimax, a major grocery store chain in northwest Mexico.[5]

In 1998, it acquired Portland, Oregon-based United Grocers Cash & Carry, which was renamed Cash & Carry Smart Foodservice. These stores are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest. In 2007, Smart & Final acquired 35 Henry's Farmers Markets in California and Sun Harvest Markets in Texas for about $166 million.[6] In 2007, the company was acquired by Apollo Global Management.[5]

In March 2010, Smart & Final announced it would expand into the Colorado market under the SmartCo Foods brand, taking over five former Albertsons locations in the Denver metro area with plans for dozens more stores in the coming years. SmartCo stores differed from typical Smart & Final locations in that they were significantly larger and included produce, meat, and bakery departments, as well as a large selection of natural and organic foods. In June 2010, the first SmartCo Foods store opened on Parker Road in Denver, and was said to be tailored for the Colorado market.

In November 2010, only five months after the chain's grand opening, SmartCo Foods announced that it was exiting the Denver market and closing all five of its stores. SmartCo Foods attributed its hasty exit from Denver to poor performance chain-wide without any hope for improvement. However, the withdrawal may have also been partially due to negotiations resulting in the February 2011 acquisition of the Sprouts Farmers Market which had 9 locations in Colorado. The Sprouts chain absorbed the Henry's and Sun Harvest chains to form a new group of over 100 markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Texas.

In 2012, Apollo sold its stake in Smart & Final to Ares Management.[7] Smart & Final went public in 2014.[8]

In 2015, Smart & Final purchased the leases on 32 locations previously operated by Haggen Food & Pharmacy.[9][10]

On April 16, 2019, Apollo announced that it would once again acquire the chain, for $1.1 billion.[11] The loan was financed at 90%, causing a loss of revenue for troubled Deutsche Bank.[12]

On October 30, 2019, Smart & Final introduced two redesigned shopping portals for consumers and business clients. Shoppers can see weekly specials, create grocery lists, shop by recipes, and create profiles that reflect dietary allergies or preferences. Business clients can complete online orders and apply for tax exemptions. [13]


  1. ^ "Smart & Final Stores". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  2. ^ "2017 FORM 10-K" (PDF).
  3. ^ "Smart & Final Corporate / History; 140 Years of Superior Service, Growth and Success". Archived from the original on December 5, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  4. ^ More Takeover Targets By Jack Hough, December 14, 2004
  5. ^ a b Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine Smart & Final corporate facts page
  6. ^ Supermarket News
  7. ^ Ares Acquires Smart & Final
  8. ^ Smart & Final IPO prices at low end of range
  9. ^ "Smart & Final Takes Over Former Haggen Grocery Stores In San Diego". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  10. ^ "Smart & Final Stores, Inc. Announces Approval of Acquisition of 32 Haggen Locations in Central and Southern California". Smart & Final Press Releases. November 30, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  11. ^ Brumpton, Harry; Roumeliotis, Greg (April 16, 2019). "Buyout firm Apollo to buy Smart & Final Stores for $1.1 billion". Reuters. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  12. ^ Rennison, Joe (25 June 2019). "Deutsche faces big hits on US leveraged-loan losses". Financial Times. The bank was forced to take a loss on a $340m loan backing the leveraged buyout of Smart & Final after investors refused to buy the debt under the original terms offered. Deutsche led a group of banks that ultimately priced the loan at a discount of 90 cents on the dollar, erasing the fees it would have earned on the transaction
  13. ^ "Smart & Final launches revamped shopping portals". Supermarket News. 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2019-10-31.

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