Save Mart sells to private equity firm Kingswood Capital Management

Kingswood Capital Management purchases the Valley and Tulare County’s largest grocery chain of more than 200 Save Mart, Lucky California and FoodMaxx locations

MODESTO, Calif. – Tulare County’s largest grocery chain has been sold to a private equity firm.

On March 28, The Save Mart Companies announced its sale to Kingswood Capital Management LP. Kingswood is an operationally-focused private equity firm based in Los Angeles, with significant experience in the retail sector. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed but Save Mart Companies reported annual sales of more than $4 billion on its website. 

Headquartered in Modesto, Calif., The Save Mart Companies operates more than 200 stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky California, and FoodMaxx, including seven Save Mart stores and one FoodMaxx in Tulare County. In addition to its retail operation, the company also operates SMART Refrigerated Transport and is a partner in Super Store Industries (“SSI”), which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop, and the Sunnyside Farms dairy processing plant in Turlock.

“I’m excited for this opportunity with Kingswood to invest in and grow The Save Mart Companies family of stores,” said Chris McGarry, CEO of The Save Mart Companies. “While this change in ownership will be transparent to our team and customers, we know that this investment will benefit them and the communities we serve.”

With the addition of The Save Mart Companies, Kingswood is expanding its existing Northern California presence. The company has a track record of acquiring retail operations and reinvesting in them. Kingswood already owns MEC, Canada’s go-to outdoor retailer, which it purchased in October 2020, Alameda-based Cost Plus World Market, which it acquired in January 2021 from Bed Bath and Beyond, and Mare Island-based Lind Marine, a diversified marine services business headquartered north of the San Francisco Bay, which it recapitalized in January 2022. Bed Bath and Beyond shed Cost Plus World Market after closing 20 locations in January 2020, including the Visalia location on Mooney Boulevard, after the parent company reported 10 straight quarters of declining sales.

“At Kingswood, our goal is to make good businesses even better, and The Save Mart Companies presents us with a great opportunity to do so,” Kingsford Managing Partner and Founder Alex Wolf said.

The news came just a few weeks after the grocer announced its year-long marketing campaign to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year. The Save Mart Companies humbly started in the Central Valley in 1952 with its first Save Mart supermarket in Modesto. Nick Tocco and Mike Piccinin built the company from a single location to a chain of 200 stores, distribution centers and store support centers employing 14,000 people. The Piccinin and Tocco had deeply rooted relationships with the area’s farmers, ranchers, and producers, and saw the value in offering the bountiful fresh and local products available at farm stands throughout the valley in a convenient, modern grocery store that families could afford.

“Their 70 years of history in the Central Valley provides a strong foundation for future profitable growth, and we look forward to working with Chris and the team to position these iconic grocery brands for the future,” Wolf said.

Mike’s son, Bob Piccinini, took over leadership of the company in the early 1980s.  By then the chain had grown to include multiple locations in the Modesto area plus surrounding communities. When a wave of store closings swept the region, Save Mart bucked the trend with additional acquisitions and the opening of its first FoodMaxx stores.  Customers continued to flock to the stores, attracted by the winning formula of fresh, local, quality and value.

“The Piccinini family did a tremendous job in fostering a commitment to innovation and service as they built and grew this company in the Central Valley and throughout California,” McGarry said. “As a result, we have great stores and a committed team of 14,000 employees who provide fantastic local products and are wonderful stewards of the communities in which they live and work.”

The 1980s saw the creation of FoodMaxx, the company’s value-format style grocery stores. FoodMaxx is proudly a non-conventional grocery store, beating the competition’s prices with its innovative procurement and hyper-efficient operations, including its ability to buy in bulk, stock shelves directly from delivery trucks, and having customers bag their own groceries – all of which allows FoodMaxx to offer budget friendly solutions and pass along additional savings to its customers.

In 2007, The Save Mart Companies acquired and restored the Lucky banner in 66 stores located in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2015, the company embarked on a brand re-positioning of Lucky stores to Lucky California. Today, Lucky California is part of the fabric of the communities it serves by providing fresh, quality groceries with a hyper-local product assortment reflecting the neighborhood’s tastes and preferences, always with everyday lower prices and great weekly promotions.

Long known for innovation, The Save Mart Companies continually explored new ways to better serve its shoppers. Through its partnership with Instacart, the home delivery service, the company was the first conventional grocer in Northern California to offer electronic benefit transfer (EBT) payments, allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries to utilize Instacart’s same-day grocery delivery and pickup services at Save Mart, Lucky California and FoodMaxx locations.

In 2020, the company launched an innovative, on-demand grocery delivery service to its customers in partnership with leading San Francisco-based robot delivery company Starship Technologies.  The Save Mart Companies was the first grocer in the U.S. to launch the Starship autonomous robot delivery service at the Save Mart flagship store in Modesto. This same robot delivery service recently debuted at Lucky California’s flagship store in Pleasanton.

The Save Mart Companies remains steadfast in its commitment to serving communities and families. In late 2021, the company began expanding its private label portfolio, “Our Brands”, to offer even more quality products throughout the store, all at an incredible value. And, during these challenging times, team members are working hard every day to keep prices low and shelves stocked, while providing unparalleled customer service. For more information, visit

For more information on Kingswood, visit their website at

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