‘Giant’ changes coming: goodbye Genuardi’s

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E. Marlborough store one of 16 sold to Giant, will close briefly and reopen under new brand later in 2012

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Sold to Giant Food Stores, this Genuardi's is expected to briefly close and reopen as a Giant later this year. Parent company Safeway sold 16 Delaware Valley stores to Giant, closed three more and is trying to sell the final eight stores from the Genuardi's chain.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — Say goodbye to Genuardi’s.

The township supermarket location, on U.S. 1, has been sold to Giant food stores, and will be converted into a Giant at some point during 2012, once the sale closes.

The local store is one of 16 Genaurdi’s locations being sold to Giant’s parent company, Ahold, USA, with three more stores being closed, including an Exton location, and eight more being kept open until parent company Safeway can find a buyer. Genuardi’s previously closed a batch of stores, including one in Chadds Ford on Rt. 202 — that location is about to reopen as a Whole Foods after a lengthy renovation of the store.

The township Genuardi’s has struggled since the entire chain was purchased in 2000 by Safeway, a national food chain that has little presence in the northeast. With a SuperFresh directly across U.S. 1 and a WalMart — slated for expansion to a Super WalMart — both the supermarket and the surrounding stores have found attracting shoppers a challenge.

With a new player in the game — Giant — the dynamics could change rapidly.  Although also slated for a modest expansion, the SuperFresh is operated by A&P, which has struggled and ultimately was forced into chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010. Any drop off of sales — either because of the expansion of the WalMart or the emergence of the Giant as a go-to store for local shoppers could spell doom for the SuperFresh.

The rapidly growing Giant chain, which already has nearby locations in Birmingham and at the New Garden/Kennett border, is poised to become the dominant food chain in the southern portion of Chester County.

“GIANT is always looking for convenient locations to better serve our customers,” said Rick Herring, president, Giant Food Stores, in a statement. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to expand our presence in greater Philadelphia and serve new customers. We look forward to providing customers with the quality, selection, and savings that they have come to expect from Giant.”
Assuming the sale passes regulatory muster, the stores will close for about a week to be reworked and reinventoried to match Giant norms. While there was no promise of hiring existing staff, Giant officials said this week that “employment opportunities would be made available to Genuardi’s associates.”

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