Giant/Martin’s continued its acquisition spree with the announcement today that it has agreed to purchase Musser’s Markets, the three-store Central Pennsylvania family-owned independent that began operations in 1925 in Buck, PA (Lancaster County).
The purchase marks the fourth strategic “infill” acquisition that Giant/Martin’s has made in less than a year. Other than its deal to buy five Shop ‘n Save stores in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia from UNFI/Supervalu earlier this year, the regional chain has focused on buying family-owned independents. Late last year, the Carlisle-based Ahold Delhaize USA brand acquired the four store Darrenkamp’s group (keeping one store and closing three others), and in July it consummated a deal to purchase high-volume single-store operator Ferguson & Hassler in Quarryville, PA, also in Lancaster County.
Giant/Martin’s will keep all three Musser’s units – Columbia, Lebanon and its store on the Buck/Quarryville line – operational (there was some speculation that the latter store might close because of its proximity to the Fergie’s store in Quarryville). The deal is expected to close in late October and Giant/Martin’s plans to reopen the three stores about a week later.
Musser’s, a fourth-generation business, was dealing with many of the same issues – increasing competition, family perpetuation and capital needs – that other independent retailers are currently facing, particularly in a rapidly evolving Lancaster County landscape, which in the last 18 months has become more chain dominated. Those chains include stalwarts Giant and Weis Markets and newcomers Wegmans, Whole Foods and Aldi.
A bit further east in Philadelphia, Giant/Martin’s is also making news with the announcement that it will open its first Center City conventional supermarket next year. The 65,000 square foot two-story unit will be part of the city’s River Walk project (23rd and Arch Streets), an 8.5 acre mixed-used development that abuts the Schuylkill River.
While dominant in the Philly suburbs for more than 30 years, Giant only operates one traditional supermarket within the city, on Grant Avenue (which opened in 2011) and that unit has the feel of a more suburban store being located in Northeast Philadelphia.
However, earlier this year, the Giant began to penetrate Center City with the opening of the first of four urban small format stores – a 9,500 square foot Heirloom Market on Bainbridge Street. Earlier this month, the second Heirloom unit opened on Chestnut Street.
Later this year, other Heirloom stores will open on North Second Street and on South Street in Center City. The River Walk unit will not only strengthen Giant’s presence in the city, where significant urban regentrification is continuing, but should provide some sizzle, too.