Two of the nation’s leading Midwest-based general merchandise retail chains, Shopko Stores and Pamida, announced today that they will merge to create one of the largest U.S. retailers focused on serving smaller and rural communities. The combined entity will have nearly 350 locations in 22 states, including Montana. Plans for new store growth will happen in the second half of 2012 and beyond. Spokeswoman for Shopko Tara Powers says all Pamida locations throughout Montana will be converted into Shopko stores. (That interview is attached below) There are 12 Pamida store located throughout Montana.

Powers says Over the past two years, Shopko has purchased seven stores from Pamida and successfully transitioned them to the Shopko Hometown format.  These locations have delivered an improved customer experience and have seen a significant increase in store traffic, sales and profitability, affirming the potential of the merger.

Once Pamida’s chain-wide conversions are complete, the company plans to accelerate the addition of new Shopko Hometown stores in the second half of 2012 and into 2013. Both companies are owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners, Inc., a leading private investment firm focused on leverage buyouts, equity, debt, and other investments in market-leading companies.