A&P Puts off Store Bidding, Auction Dates

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc. (A&P) has extended the deadline for bid submissions for its stores in connection with its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to a published report. The new deadline is Sept. 17.

The Montvale, N.J.-based grocer has also delayed the deadline by which it would cancel an auction because of a lack of qualified bidders from Sept. 15 to Sept. 18, the Lewisboro, N.Y., Daily Voice reported, while the deadline for publishing qualified bidders and for selecting opening bid amounts has been moved from Sept. 21 to Sept 25.

Additionally, the date for potential auctioning has been changed from Sept. 24-25 to Oct. 1-2. As a result, notice of the successful bidders will take place on Oct. 3 instead of Sept. 26. The deadline for parties to file objections to the successful bids is now Oct. 9 instead of Oct. 2, while the deadline for A&P's response to any objections has been rescheduled for Oct. 15 rather than Oct. 6. Finally, a sale hearing, the last part of the procss before the closing of the deals, has been put off to Oct. 16 from Oct. 7.

In its Sept. 11 filing requesting the delays, A&P gave several reasons for pushing back the bid and auction dates, among them Pope Francis' impending visit to New York City, religious holidays, and the convening of the United Nationals General Assembly.

Since filing for bankruptcy in July, A&P has secured three prospective bidders for 118 of its stores. The bidders, which may obtain possession of the stores' leases if no rival bids are entered, are Stop & Shop, Key Food and Acme Markets. However, about 150 of the company's stores don’t have a clear future or bidders, it revealed in a separate filing last week.

A&P is also looking to rework its union contracts by limiting severance pay and discontinuing the practice of "bumping," in which unionized employees with more seniority get to keep their jobs over junior workers. Judge Robert Drain has issued an interim order enabling A&P to restructure its bargaining agreements within a limited time frame, as the company seeks a permanent resolution to eliminate the financial aspects of bumping.

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