Grocery Outlet

Not to be confused with United Grocery Outlet.
Grocery Outlet
Formerly called
Cannery Sales (1946–1970)
Canned Foods (1970–1987)
Industry Retail / Grocery
Founded June 11, 1946 (June 11, 1946)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Founder James Read
Headquarters Emeryville, California, U.S.
Number of locations
Key people
Eric Lindberg & MacGregor Read, Co-CEOs[1]
Products Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, produce, snacks, beer & wine

Grocery Outlet, supermarket chain previously known as Canned Foods Grocery Outlet, is owned by private equity firm and operated by the founding Read family. It focuses on discount overstocked and closeout products from name brand and private label suppliers.[2][3][4][5][6] James Read founded the company on June 11, 1946 in San Francisco, California.[3][4][6] Grocery Outlet operates in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Pennsylvania.[2][7] Its co-CEOs are Eric Lindberg and MacGregor Read.[1]

The majority of Grocery Outlet’s stores are independently operated by locally based married couples.[4][5][6][8] Each store also has flexibility in its product offerings to better serve local tastes and demand.[8][9]


A location in Hillsboro, Oregon

On June 11, 1946, James Read bought government surplus food products and sold them in vacant stores throughout San Francisco.[3][6][10] He named his new company Cannery Sales.[6][10]

In 1970, Cannery Sales acquired Globe of California and renamed it Canned Foods.[6][10] Canned Foods changed to selling closeout, factory second, and discounted products.[6][10]

In 1971, Canned Foods signed its first supplier agreement, an agreement with Del Monte Foods.[11] It later signed agreements with companies such as ConAgra, the Quaker Oats Company, and Revlon.[11] Canned Foods opened its first independent store in Redmond, Oregon in 1973.[4]

Following founder James Read's death in 1982, his sons Steven and Peter Read took over company management.[4] In 1987, the company was renamed Grocery Outlet.[6][7] Grocery Outlet’s 100th store opened in 1995.[10]

In 2001, Grocery Outlet acquired all remaining liquidated inventories of Webvan following the online grocery delivery service’s bankruptcy.[12] During the same year, Grocery Outlet acquired online retailer’s remaining inventory following that retailer’s bankruptcy.[13] In 2002, the company changed its corporate name to Grocery Outlet, Inc.[10]

Grocery Outlet purchased 16 Yes!Less grocery stores in Texas and another in Shreveport, Louisiana from Dallas, Texas-based Fleming Cos. in January 2003.[14] All of the 17 stores were closed by May 2004.[15]

The company promoted MacGregor Read and Eric Lindberg to co-CEO in 2006.[10][16] Prior to their appointment, Read was vice president of real estate and Lindberg vice president of purchasing for the company.[16] They took over for Steven Read, who became executive chairman of Grocery Outlet.[16] MacGregor Read is the son of Steven Read and Lindberg the son-in-law of Grocery Outlet Chairman Peter Read.[16] MacGregor Read is the third generation of the Read family to serve as CEO of Grocery Outlet.[16]

In 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit awarded Albertsons an injunction against Grocery Outlet over Grocery Outlet’s use of the Lucky brand name in a Rocklin, California store.[17]

In 2011 Grocery Outlet acquired a Lancaster County based chain of stores named Amelia's Grocery Outlet.[18]

In 2014, Hellman & Friedman LLC a private equity fund agreed to partner with senior management and acquire the Grocery Outlet from principal owner Berkshire Partners LLC.[19]


Grocery Outlet's inventory comes primarily from overstocks and closeouts of name brand groceries, as well as private label groceries.[2][3][4][5][6] Grocery Outlets buy mostly closeout or seasonal merchandise, so particular brand names change often.[2] The company’s stores also carry food staples such as fresh meat, dairy and bread.[2] All products sold by Grocery Outlet are purchased directly from manufacturers, not other retail stores.[2]

Grocery Outlet says its stores keep certain products on shelves beyond the "best if used by" dates: "Some items, including soft-ripened cheeses, non-dairy creamers, dough products, juices, and smoked salmon are pulled 7 days after their “Best If Used By” date, because they are still safe to eat. All other product (shelf-stable grocery) must be pulled no later than 30 days past the “Best If Used By” date." The company states that: "'Use-by' dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates."[20]


  1. 1 2 Tim McLaughlin (October 13, 2009). "Berkshire invests in W. Coast grocery chain". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Tanya Mannes (July 11, 2012). "Grocery Outlet opens new San Diego store". UT San Diego. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Carolyn Said (June 20, 2010). "Grocery Outlet cashing in on new frugality with expansion". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Robert Goldfield (June 1, 2003). "Grocery Outlet hits spot with budget shoppers". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 Brian Wilkinson (April 24, 2013). "Sierra Lanes to be converted to Grocery Outlet". Sierra Star. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 John Hollis (Nov 1, 2013). "New owners grow with Grocery Outlet". Appeal Democrat. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  7. 1 2 Clay Moffitt (April 6, 2012). "Grocery Outlet building new Fresno store". The Business Journal Now. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  8. 1 2 Carolyn Said (June 20, 2010). "Grocery Outlet eyes expansion in lean times". SFGate. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  9. Robert Rogers (May 23, 2013). "New Grocery Outlet set to open doors in Richmond, where grocers have been scarce". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Eve Mitchell (February 5, 2010). "Berkeley-based Grocery Outlet expands as shoppers turn frugal". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  11. 1 2 Greg Stiles (September 3, 2003). "Shopping adventures". Mail Tribune. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  12. "Grocery Outlet Buys Inventory From Webvan". Oakland Post. August 22, 2001.
  13. David Goll (December 3, 2001). "Grocery Outlet buys's inventory for $4M". San Francisco Business Journal. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  14. Mark Hamstra (June 30, 2003). "Grocery Outlet Extends Reach To Texas With Yes!Less Buy All". Supermarket News. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  15. "Grocery Outlet to close Texas, La. stores". Austin Business Journal. March 4, 2004. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 "Grocery Outlet Names New Co-CEOs; Preps for Aggressive Growth". Progressive Grocer. March 8, 2006. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  17. "Report: Albertsons gets Lucky in appeals court decision". San Francisco Business Times. September 11, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  18. "RetailWire Discussion: FD Buyer: Grocery Outlet Grows".
  19. Company (September 16, 2014). "Grocery Outlet Announces Partnership with Hellman & Friedman". Grocery Outlet Inc. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  20. Food Safety at Grocery Outlet Retrieved Jan. 3, 2016
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