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Merging grocery chains to unload 86 stores

Buyers include Weis, Saubel's

Midstate grocery chains are joining the feeding frenzy as two industry giants propose to sell off dozens of supermarkets ahead of a merger expected to close this month.

European grocery companies Ahold and Delhaize Group said last night they plan to sell 86 U.S. stores, including some in York and Franklin counties, in an effort to satisfy antitrust concerns related to their merger. Ahold and Delhaize own the Giant and Food Lion brands, among others.

The buyers include Sunbury-based Weis Markets Inc., which is buying 38 Food Lions in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Saubel’s Markets, a small chain that operates three groceries in southern York County and northern Maryland, plans to buy a Food Lion store in Springettsbury Township, York County.

Ahold and Delhaize expect to close their merger this month and said they have agreements in hand to sell the 86 stores, which are scattered across Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and West Virginia.

“Together, Ahold and Delhaize Group have been working hard to resolve the competition concerns raised by the (Federal Trade Commission), and we are pleased to have found strong, well-established buyers for the stores we are required to divest,” Ahold CEO Dick Boer said in a statement.

The store sales are contingent on the FTC’s approval of the merger, first announced last summer. Shareholders and European regulators approved the deal earlier this year, Ahold and Delhaize said.

The biggest chunk of stores is going to Weis, which said it is nearly doubling its store count in Maryland and entering Delaware and Virginia for the first time. The four Delaware stores are in and around the resort towns of Bethany Beach, Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.

Weis said it expects to convert most of the stores in September and October, and hopes to hire existing employees.

Supervalu, meanwhile, is scooping up 22 stores, the second-biggest chunk. Four are Food Lions in Franklin County: two in Chambersburg and one each in Greencastle and Waynesboro. The others are in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

“The stores will operate under our Shop ‘N Save format, which we believe is a great format for us and our wholesale customers,” Mark Gross, Supervalu’s president and CEO, said in a statement. The company said it expected to close on the sale within 15 weeks.

Other buyers are:

• New Albertson’s Inc. (part of Albertsons Cos. based in Idaho) purchasing a Giant Food store in Salisbury, Md.

• Big Y (based in Massachusetts), purchasing eight Hannaford stores in eastern Massachusetts.

• Publix (based in Florida), purchasing 10 Martin’s stores in Richmond, Va.

• Tops Markets (based in New York), purchasing one Stop & Shop store in Massachusetts as well as three Stop & Shop stores and two Hannaford stores in New York.

A full list of stores and locations is available here.

Delhaize is a Belgian food retailer with 3,524 stores in seven countries.

Ahold, based in the Netherlands, operates 3,253 stores in the U.S. and Europe. It’s Giant-Carlisle division is based in Cumberland County.

Joel Berg
Joel Berg is editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Born in Philadelphia, raised in Northern Virginia and now living in York, he's a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and the University of Maryland. Have a question or story idea? Email him at [email protected].

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