Supervalu announced last month that it is preparing to explore an outright sale of the Save-A-Lot discount grocery chain, rather than spin it off as a separate unit. According to published reports, the company has received interest from several private equity firms, and has told them it will consider offers in early 2016. Waiting until 2016, when Supervalu plans to register with regulators to enable Save-A-Lot to “spin-off” as its own company, provides Supervalu with flexibility as it weighs its options.

A possible spin-off had been announced in July in order to insulate the fast-growing Save-A-Lot chain from its parent company’s slower-growing wholesale and food retail business.

Buyout firms have to convince Supervalu that a sale would represent a better value to the company and its shareholders than a spin. Industry experts value Save-A-Lot at about $1.7 billion.

Save-A-Lot currently has 1,334 stores, about 70 percent of which are operated by licensees.