It used to feel like there was a Waldbaum’s in every Long Island town. Well, not for long.
Supermarket operator, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which currently operates 296 stores in the Northeast under the brand names A&P, Best Cellars, Food Basics, The Food Emporium, Pathmark, Superfresh and Waldbaum’s, has filed for bankruptcy.
The company, which was founded in 1859, filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in July. This filing has directly affected Long Island’s 32 Waldbaum’s stores and 19 Pathmark stores. These Long Island supermarkets are fated to one of three: to be sold, to close, or to go to auction.
In bankruptcy court, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. gained approval to sell 95 of its stores for a total of $370 Million, including 16 stores on Long Island. These stores include: Waldbaum’s stores in Albertson, Melville, East Hampton, Glen Head, Long Beach, as well as others. It also includes Pathmark stores in Seaford, New Hyde Park, Greenvale, Bethpage, Baldwin, Port Jefferson as well as others. As for the buyers, 71 A&P stores will be sold to Acme Markets Inc. for $246 Million, 24 stores will be sold to Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. for $124 Million, and also Key Food Stores has agreed to acquire 17 stores. The Waldbaum’s stores and Pathmarks that Stop & Shop will acquire include, East Hampton, Southampton, Baldwin, Massapequa, Long Beach, Huntington, as well as others.
Regarding store closings, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. will be closing a total of 25 stores, which includes 5 Long Island locations. These stores include, Carle Place, Riverhead, Centereach, Baldwin, and Oceanside. They are all Waldbaum’s stores. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. has said that the closing locations will remain fully stocked until they close within the next few months and that the stores will continue to honor existing customer promotional and loyalty programs.
As for store auctions, only one in three Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. stores that went up for auction came back with bids. The filing did not reveal prices of the stores that were bid on. Of the 128 stores in the first auction (30 Long Island stores), 36 received winning bids, and if approved by the court would divide the base among 21 entities including supermarkets, landlords, and other investors. Remaining stores, which either received no bids or offers that didn’t meet the minimum threshold, will go to a second auction. From the auction, Key Food Stores would gain 8 new locations; Compare Foods also had winning bids. Long Island stores that were up for auction include, Waldbaum’s stores in Commack, Stony Brook, Mattituck, East Setauket, West Hampton, Massapequa, as well as others. Pathmark stores include, North Babylon, Islip, Bay Shore, Massapequa, East Rockaway, as well as others.
With the sales acquisitions, closings, and auctions of these stores, around 4,000 Long Island jobs could be disturbed, a total of around 11,000 for the Northeast, potentially leaving employees out of work. Hopefully, Stop & Shop and Acme Markets, which have acquired through sale or auction most of Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.’s supermarkets, will hire from the existing workforce. Thankfully, Stop & Shop and Acme Markets are expected to reach labor agreements with the union representing workers helping them to keep many or most of those workers employed, protecting wages and benefits.
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