Montvale-based Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) said Tuesday that it plans to sell its 16 Food Emporium stores in Manhattan.
Company spokeswoman Marcy Connor confirmed in a statement that the supermarket company began shopping around for a buyer for the New York City Food Emporium stores this month. The one remaining Food Emporium in Connecticut will not be sold.
The decision represents the first major move by A&P since it emerged from bankruptcy in March. The company, which operates 320 stores under the A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum's, Food Emporium and Food Basics names, has shed close to 80 stores since filing for bankruptcy protection in December 2010.
Other grocery chains, including Fairway, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market, reportedly have been expressing interest in Food Emporium's Manhattan real estate for several years.
Connor said A&P made the decision to sell because "The Food Emporium represents a unique urban footprint that requires a specific go-to-market strategy." She said the sale will enable A&P "to support the company's long-term strategic vision to be the No. 1 food and drug store in every neighborhood it serves."
A&P workers in North Jersey stores have expressed concerns since the company filed for bankruptcy that the ultimate plan was to sell off the different chains one by one.
Chief Executive Officer Sam Martin, who was hired in the summer of 2010 to turn around the company, said in an interview with The Record in April that was not the plan. "We're fixing up the company to be a viable, profitable company," he said at the time. "It's not like we're just trimming it up to put it on the marketplace."
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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