Salisbury’s Giant Food store sold to Albertson’s

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Salisbury’s Giant Food store will become Albertson’s.

Late Wednesday, Ahold and Delhaize Group today announced that their United States subsidiaries have reached agreements with buyers to sell 86 stores in a limited number of locations in which the companies’ U.S. subsidiaries both operate.

The companies in the midst of a merger. Ahold owns the the Giant chain of stores; Delhaize owns the Food Lion chain.

In the Salisbury community — with so many Food Lion stores already established — Giant is being sold.

These divestments are being made in connection with the Federal Trade Commission’s pending review of the proposed merger between the two companies. According to Ahold officials, the divested stores are being sold to well established supermarket operators; New Albertson’s fits that criteria, based on its industry performance.

The announced divestments represent 4.1 percent of the Ahold and Delhaize companies’ total combined U.S. store count and 3.2 percent of the Ahold and Delhaize companies’ combined U.S. 2015 net sales

The companies continue to expect to complete the merger before the end of July

Ahold purchased Giant in 1998. Since its founding, it had been owned by a Washington, D.C., family and was a major force in the regional food sales arena.

While Safeway, A&P and Acme have faded from the Salisbury scene, Salisbury’s Giant has remained a local consumer institution.

“The combination of Ahold and Delhaize Group is a unique opportunity to deliver even more for customers, associates and local communities,” said CEO Dick Boer. “Together, Ahold and Delhaize Group have been working hard to resolve the competition concerns raised by the FTC, and we are pleased to have found strong, well established buyers for the stores we are required to divest. We deeply appreciate the long-time support of our customers and associates in these locations and are confident that the new owners will continue to serve local communities well.”

Customer loyalty to the Salisbury story is strong and there has been strong angst in the community about a change.

Albertson’s is part of Albertsons Co. and is based in Idaho. In January 2015, it acquired Safeway Inc. for $9.2 billion. The company has more than 2,200 stores and some 250,000 employees, which makes it the second largest supermarket chain in North America after Kroger, which has 2,424 stores.

Among reported reasons for the Ahold/Delhaize merger is that traditional supermarket customers are being lured away by discount establishments or department stores that have started carrying groceries, such as Walmart and Target. By merging, the two companies could save money and overhead expenses.

According to regulatory laws, the company cannot have a grocery dominance in the market, which it would through the Food Lions and Giant.

Waverly Plaza Associates, who own the shopping center where Giant is located, reportedly has no interest in selling the total property and little interest in redeveloping. According to local commercial Realtors, the Giant store is leased through 2035, but can sell those rights to another chain, such as Albertson’s.

 

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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