With its market share in Texas continuing to slip, Safeway announced Tuesday that it is closing 26 Randalls and Tom Thumb stores, including 15 Randalls in the Houston area.

The nation's third-largest grocery chain, Safeway said it is closing stores that it considers underperforming so that it can concentrate on upgrading the remaining stores.

"These closings set the stage for fundamentally improving our Texas operation," said Steve Burd, CEO of California-based Safeway. Once the targeted stores are closed by the end of the year, Safeway will have 112 Texas stores, including 36 Houston-area Randalls.