Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A&p's Future Up in the Air

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A&p's Future Up in the Air

Article excerpt

The fate of North Jersey's A&P, Pathmark and related supermarkets remains in limbo as employees, vendors and landlords wait to hear if Montvale-based The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. has managed to find a buyer or an option that would prevent a bankruptcy.

Leaders of the two main North Jersey unions representing workers at A&P and Pathmark stores said Tuesday they are still waiting to see what will happen, after being told last month by company representatives that it was able to meet its obligations, and that no crisis was imminent.

But despite company assertions that everything remains business as usual while it explores strategic options, reports continue to surface of vendors refusing to extend credit to the company, and of landlords not receiving rent checks.

Most industry observers say they don't see any buyers on the horizon who are likely to continue the A&P or Pathmark chains, and they expect the company's real estate assets to be divided up.

A&P "has been restructuring for 20 years. And what has happened in 20 years? It's all gotten worse," said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm based in New York City. "What they have now is a non-viable business, but underlying that non-viable business is valuable real estate that good operators - be it drugstores, cosmetics, discount stores - could make money with," he said.

As rumors of an impending bankruptcy or division of assets circulate, interested parties have been eyeing A&P's real estate holdings and sizing up the health of various stores.

One document viewed by The Record lists all of the A&P stores in New Jersey and surrounding states, with the amount paid in rent, the years left on the lease, and the 2014 sales for each store, as well as the change in sales compared with 2013. Many of the stores on the list had double-digit sales declines between 2013 and 2014, with sales at some stores down by as much as 16 percent. …

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