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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 26, 2002

Family sells Times supermarket chain

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Times certainly have changed for Times Super Market Ltd. since Wallace and Albert Teruya established their first store on O'ahu in 1949.

Wayne Teruya, left, president of Times Supermarket, and John Quinn, chief executive of PAQ Inc., jointly announced yesterday that PAQ is buying the chain of 13 O'ahu markets begun by Teruya's father and uncle.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

Back then, Wednesday was a half-day and the store was closed on Sunday. There was no Safeway and no Costco, and the business grew steadily with Wallace's sons Raymond and Wayne taking over leadership of what grew to become Hawai'i's third-largest supermarket chain.

Yesterday the Teruya family said it had been struggling with the 13 O'ahu Times stores in recent years and had decided to sell the company to California supermarket operator PAQ Inc.

John Quinn, PAQ president and chief executive officer, said Times would change, but not a lot. He promised to bring lower prices, upgrade meats and produce, do some remodeling and maintain cleaner stores.

Quinn also said the Times name would stay, and so would most of the company's 875 employees. An unspecified number of Times' 80 administrative employees will not be offered positions.

PAQ will follow through with previous plans to close the Niu Valley store when the lease expires at the end of September. No other store closures are planned.

"I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Times' tradition and the hard work the Teruya family and generations of employees helped build," Quinn said. "I promise you that we will continue to honor that tradition."

Taking over as president will be Roger Godfrey, a former distribution director for Foodland Supermarket and former Hawai'i division president of Fleming Cos. Inc., the main grocery supplier for Times.

Two PAQ employees, Rick Linton and Ed Vargas, will serve as vice president of operations and director of purchasing, respectively.

PAQ, which operates six Food4Less stores with 645 employees in California, expects to complete the Times acquisition next month. A purchase price was not disclosed.

Wayne Teruya, Times president and chief operating officer, said company shareholders had decided a year or two ago to hire an investment banker to find a buyer.

"It was a real tough decision to make," he said, noting that the company had struggled with newer competitors such as Costco but had turned business around and is profitable. Older shareholders wanted to cash out, however, and there was no younger generation of Teruya family members willing to take over the company.

Teruya said the investment banking firm had brought in PAQ, which had been looking to enter the Hawai'i market for 2 1/2 years.

Quinn said he was not discouraged by the impact of Sept. 11 on the Hawai'i economy. "We have confidence in Hawai'i's long-term economic potential," he said.

PAQ was formed in 1995 by Quinn, a veteran of the retail food industry since 1978. The company acquired three Food4Less stores and doubled the operation. Two more stores are scheduled to open this year. No expansion of Times is being considered, Quinn added.

The acquisition will leave only two locally owned major grocery chains, Foodland and Star Markets Ltd.

Brothers Wallace and Albert Teruya got into the supermarket business 53 years ago because they were tired of paying a middleman to supply their Times Grill (later Columbia Inn) restaurant on Kapi'olani Boulevard.

They built the company in memory of a third brother, Herman, who had been killed in Italy during World War II, and expanded the chain during the post-war boom into one of the biggest supermarket operators in the Territory of Hawai'i.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.