From day one on October 22, 2018, when UNFI officially acquired Supervalu, the Providence, RI-based distributor stated that it would look to sell its corporately-owned retail banners. Fourteen months later, the company announced that it has sold 13 of its remaining 43 Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores in the Baltimore-Washington market to three unidentified buyers. Four other Shoppers stores will be closed by the end of next month (see list at the bottom of the story). As for the remaining 26 Shoppers stores which are unspoken for, UNFI said they will continue to operate while the wholesaler continues to market them for sale.
A spokesman for UNFI said it was the buyers’ wishes that they were not named at this time. Among those who have reportedly shown interest in acquiring Shoppers stores in recent months are Compare Foods, which operates urban supermarkets in New York City and North Carolina and Lidl, the German discounter which began operations in the U.S in 2017 and earlier this year acquired 27 Best Market stores primarily on Long Island.
And at one time, multiple sources said that Giant Food was interested in about a dozen stores, but backed off after UNFI reportedly sought to have the Landover, MD-based retailer pay down some of the approximately $130 million unfunded liability remaining in Shoppers’ pension plan.
Each of the transactions is expected to close between mid-December and the end of February 2020, subject to customary closing conditions. In connection with the sale transactions, UNFI said Shoppers intends to wind down operations at these locations, including the sale of any remaining inventory and closure of the stores prior to reopening under other banners.
As for the four stores that will close at the end of January 2020, UNFI said it made the decision to not renew the lease at three of these locations and the fourth is being cancelled pursuant to agreement with the landlord.
“Today’s announcement reflects progress on our commitment to reduce UNFI’s retail footprint and marks another step toward transforming UNFI into North America’s premier food wholesaler,” said Steven L. Spinner, UNFI chairman and CEO. “We believe that exiting the retail business will further accelerate our business transformation and allow us to more appropriately allocate resources toward long-term growth initiatives.”
Earlier this year, UNFI made the decision to close the 30 Shoppers pharmacies located in its stores and sold the prescriptions and pharmacy inventories to CVS and Walgreens.
In a separate announcement to UNFI’s shareholder’s Spinner said: “There are impacts to our associates and the communities we’ve served, but we believe exiting retail is in the best long-term interest of our business and stakeholders. On behalf of our entire leadership team, I want to thank our many associates who work in or support our Shoppers stores, as well our team in the Mechanicsville distribution center who has served as the distribution arm to Shoppers for many years. They’ve served our customers and communities in an exemplary way through the years. It is recognized and appreciated by all of us.”
Shoppers Stores To Be Sold
2371 Solomons Island Rd., Annapolis, MD
5600 The Alameda, Baltimore, MD
6500 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD
5722 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn Park, MD
22599 MacArthur Boulevard, California, MD
4801 Marlboro Pike, Capitol Heights, MD
3831 Bladensburg Rd, Colmar Manor, MD
7051 Martin Luther King Jr. Highway, Landover, MD
6111 Livingston Road, Oxon Hill, MD
6881 New Hampshire Avenue, Takoma Park, MD
1170 Smallwood Drive W., Waldorf, MD
2201 Randolph Road, Wheaton, MD
9274 Old Keene Mill Road, Burke, VA
Shoppers Stores Closing
8212 Liberty Road, Baltimore, MD
7858 Quarterfield Rd, Severn, MD
3801 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA
10864 Sudley Manor Drive, Manassas, VA