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Tuesday, February 25, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Gai's Bakery Sold To Firm In Portland -- Customers Will Find The Same Products, Prices As Before

Seattle Times Business Reporter

Gai's Seattle French Baking, which has sold the staff of life to city dwellers since the late 1920s, has been bought by United States Bakery of Portland for an undisclosed price. The seller was Chicago's Specialty Foods, of which Gai's was a subsidiary.

Gai's products are sold under the Gai's, Langendorf and Pierre's labels. The company has bakeries in Seattle, Bothell, Portland and Vancouver, B.C.

Gai's will retain its name but will become a subsidiary of U.S. Bakery. Products, distribution and pricing will remain the same for both organizations, U.S. Bakery said yesterday.

U.S. Bakery has plants in Portland and Eugene, Ore., and in Yakima and Spokane. The company sells baked goods under the Franz, Williams, Snyder's and McKenzie Farms labels. It also sells brands such as Roman Meal, Country Hearth, Poulsbo, Svenhard's and Archway by licensing agreement.

Yesterday's deal is the culmination of an idea that was "probably 15 years in the making," said Bob Albers, president and chief executive officer of U.S. Bakery. Talk of a joint venture with Gai's began again in earnest three years ago.

`As we got into it, it just made more sense to do the acquisition rather than a merger," Albers said. `" think the baking industry in the last few years has gone the way of the beer industry in the last 15 years. There's been a lot of consolidation."

With the purchase of Gai's, U.S. Bakery adds Vancouver, B.C., to a distribution area that includes the Pacific Northwest, Montana and northern California.

U.S. Bakery has more than 3,000 employees and about $200 million in annual sales, Albers said.

By comparison, annual sales for competitor Interstate Brands (maker of Wonder Bread and Hostess snack cakes) is $2.3 billion, Albers said.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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