Associated Grocers of New England is purchasing five independent Vermont grocery stores – Village Market of Waterbury, Johnson’s Sterling Market, Shelburne Market, Richmond Market & Beverage, and Jericho Market – owned by Mike Comeau for an undisclosed amount, according to a published report.
The deal is scheduled to close on Jan. 18, the Waterbury Record reported. Comeau's stores have been members of Pembroke, N.H.-based Associated Grocers for years and will remain members of the cooperative.
“My employees were a big reason for the sale,” Comeau told the Record. “I’ve reached a pivot point where I have a good group, but they are looking for more opportunities. They will have a lot more access to opportunities, like better health insurance, than I can currently offer, better 401K plans and benefits, and chances to move up the ladder.” He added that he and his wife, Cathy Timmer-Comeau, will continue to shop at the stores after the transaction is completed.
“Locally owned, independent grocery stores are the backbone of our company,” Associated Grocers President and CEO Mike Violette noted in the Record’s article. “It is rare to have the opportunity to acquire a retail group and have the ability to provide continuity to extremely well-run stores.”
The co-op plans to keep in place the stores' current employees and upper management team.
“We are thrilled to continue with the successful formula that has fueled the success of Mike Comeau’s five stores here in Vermont,” Violette explained. “We don’t want to change a thing. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Comeau is on Associated Grocers' board of directors until his term ends in June, but following the sale of the stores, he will recuse himself from any discussions about them.
Associated Grocers’ 300-plus employees service more than 600 stores in New England and upstate New York. The co-op also operates a few corporate stores.