The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, has informed New Jersey employees to brace for layoffs as it prepares to sell off or close all of its stores, according to published reports. As many as 9,400 employees at 93 stores across the Garden State could be affected. The formal notifications, which went out last week, are required by state law.
There's a good chance, however, that many of the layoffs won't occur. The three potential buyers of 118 of A&P's stores, Stop & Shop, Acme Markets and Key Food, would probably have to retain the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union and hire all of the associates now working at the store, John Niccollai, head of Little Falls, N.J.-based UFCW 464a, told The Record. That could be as many as 4,000 jobs saved, according to Niccollai, with other stores likely to be purchased by additional bidders.
Meanwhile, layoffs at the stores A&P wants to close seem more likely. A&P and UFCW are currently wrangling in bankruptcy court over whether laid-off workers at closing stores would have "bumping rights" over junior colleagues at stores that will remain open. The two sides are also at odds over whether laid-off workers will receive full severance pay.
According to a report from Newsday, the number of potentially affected associates in New York state is about 13,000, but there's currently no word on how many workers would lose their jobs in the other states in which A&P operates, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania,
A&P Pharmacy Bids
In related news, A&P has asked bankruptcy court Judge Robert Drain, in White Plains, N.Y., to expedite the sale of its stores to limit the number of pharmaceutical customers moving to other pharmacies during the ownership change. According to the grocer, under the sale agreement, which the court must approve, customer dropoff could result in a lower purchase price.
A&P said that it has received bids on 22 closing stores with pharmacies. Potential buyers of these stores include Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid, which has submitted bids of more than $8 million to acquire pharmacy customers and inventories at 12 locations, and Keasbey, N.J.-based retailer cooperative Wakefern Food Corp., whose members operate stores under the ShopRite banner, which has agreed to pay almost $1 million for pharmacy assets at three stores.