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Ukrop’s to sell 25 stores for $140 million

Al Harris December 17, 2009 8

After more than 72 years, the Ukrop’s family is out of the retail grocery business.

Royal Ahold, the Dutch supermarket operator that owns the Giant chain of grocery stores, will buy 25 stores from Ukrop’s Super Markets for $140 million. The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of 2010.

Its subsidiary Giant-Carlisle operates more than 150 stores in the Mid-Atlantic, including some that operate under the Martin’s brand name.

Ukrop’s CEO Bobby Ukrop, joined by his brother Jim, announced the news at a press conference Thursday afternoon. The local grocery chain was founded in 1937 by their father Joseph.

“They are a lot like us. They have similar values and a similar culture,” said Bobby Ukrop.

Giant-Carlisle’s origins go back to 1923 when it was founded as the Carlisle Meat Market in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It was sold to Royal Ahold in 1981.

Ukrop said the stores will continue to operate under the same name for the short-term as the new owners take time to study the business and plan gradual changes.

Not included in the deal are the Fredericksburg store and the Joe’s Market owned by Ukrop’s located in Richmond’s West End. Those stores will eventually be closed.  The nearest Giant Food Stores are in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg.

While the family is leaving the retail business, Ukrop said the Ukrop’s Food Group will continue as a food producer and bakery, with Giant-Carlisle a primary customer. First Market Bank will also continue to operate branches at the store.

Jim Ukrop, who served as CEO of the supermarket before his brother, said one reason the family decided to sell is because it found itself at a competitive disadvantage.

“Our size limited our ability to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive grocery market,” he said.

According to a required filing with the Office of Thrift Supervision related to First Market Bank, the grocery store lost $1.4 million in the third quarter of this year, earning a total income of $140 million.

The company’s total assets as of September 30 were listed as $233 million, with liabilities of $145.9 million.

The elder Ukrop addressed the notion that even if they had begun selling alcohol and keeping Sunday hours, it would only have bought the business a few more years before it found itself in a similar position.

Rick Herring, the division president of Giant-Carlisle, said that over the next few months the company would be making decisions as to whether the stores will open on Sundays or sell beer and wine over the next few months, and not until then.

“We look forward to building on the heritage of this great company, I’d say in Richmond it is more of an institution,” Herring said.

Current retail associates will be rehired, he said.

“Our goal is to remain an employer of choice,” said Herring.

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8 Comments »

  1. Stefan December 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    We can only hope that the new owners will run it half as well as the Ukrop family has and not lose the community touch and feel.. They will be sadly missed. :(

  2. Jami December 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Giant store are terrific they were in Richmond years ago but left? Will they have the presence in the community like Ukrops?? We can only hope!

  3. Andrew December 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    waaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =’(

  4. Lisa December 28, 2009 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Why will Joe’s Market close? They can’t get rid of Joe’s!!!!

  5. Kae March 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Giant’s not a bad company. I’ve worked full time for them for 5 years now, and they treat their stores pretty well. Up here in PA, the customers are not always the nicest, but that comes with the territory. It may be sad to see the name of the company go, but Giant makes nice stores, has the best benefits, and won’t be firing the employees in the stores (just retraining them to some Giant practices). You guys will still have your customer service needs met, and Ukrop’s store brands are being kept in bakery and hot foods, with Giant and Martin’s foods being introduced as well. Giant/Martin’s gives back to the community through fundraisers and donations to local charities and organizations (including schools, bake sales, churches, clubs, fire station/police stations).. There are awesome customer service guarantees (200% Freshness guarantees on ALL perishable foods and price accuracy guarantees on everything).

    It won’t be bad, promise! I’ll be down there helping with the conversion in May :) Hope to meet some faithful customers!

  6. Ryan March 22, 2010 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I am a Giant employee and will be going down to help in 2 stores in April and May. And though Ill be coming back to PA i know that Giant will be great in Virginia. Our every day low prices are wonderful as well as our care for customer service and Freshness Guaranteed or DOUBLE your money back! Working in Produce, we have extremely high standards for our fruits and veggies. We strive to use the best methods to keep your produce as fresh as possible with some of the lowest grocery store prices around. Acme and Genaurdis can not compete. For the Ukrops employees Giant offers great incentives though there are not discounts on items in the store, Giant has different deals with companies like HP, Verizon Wireless, and Cingular wireless, as well as a hand full of other companies in which we are offered a discount for being employees of Giant. As well as the amazing health benefits available to the associates who are there long enough. Its a great place to work, and a great career. They are an equal opportunity employer and give lots of room to advance. and giant is keeping the UKROPS associates and just teaching them the Giant way allowing them to keep their jobs. Im sure giant will be expanding further and I can not wait to see how far our company will progress.

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