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Ahold of Ukrop's

Richmond's last great retailer sells out. Royal Ahold, which operates Giant Food Stores and Martin's Food Markets in Virginia, to buy Ukrop's for $140 million.



It's official: Ahold USA has agreed to purchase Ukrop's Super Markets for approximately $140 million.

The Dutch-based supermarket giant is buying 25 of Ukrop's stores, and one new location in Richmond and Williamsburg, including inventory and equipment, and expects to complete the transaction by the first quarter of next year. Ahold officials, in a news release, also announced the company would retain existing Ukrop's grocery workers. At press time, it is uncertain what will happen to Ukrop's corporate employees.

For the time being, Ahold will retain Ukrop's name, officials say, and remain closed on Sundays and continue its policy of not selling alcohol. But that's likely to change. Ahold officials say they plan to study the business and implement changes as they see fit. The company, which will operate Ukrop's through its Giant-Carlisle subsidiary, based in Carlisle, Penn., plans to eventually rebrand the stores as either Giant Food Stores or Martin's Food Markets.

“Stores will continue to operate as Ukrop's for the time being. Over time, we intend to build on the Ukrop's heritage and strengths and introduce the characteristics for which Giant and Martin's are well-known,” says Tracy Pawelski, a spokeswoman for Giant Foods and Martin's. “Our goal will be to enhance the shopping experience and minimize any disruption to customers accustomed to shopping at the stores.”

It's unclear, however, when that transition will take place.

The Ukrop family will hold on to the company's bakery and prepared foods business after the sale becomes final, and will (at least in the immediate future) be an exclusive provider to the new Ukrop's. Joe's Market, the Ukrop's upscale grocery, will close in January, as will the Ukrop's location in Fredericksburg.

The news of Ukrop's sale brings to closure months of speculation about the company's future. It was first reported by trade publications in July that Ukrop's was seeking a buyer. Bobby Ukrop, Ukrop's chairman and chief executive, says the Giant-Carlisle division, which operates 152 stores in four states under the Giant Foods and Martin's banners, will give Ukrop's superior buying power and make the chain more competitive in an increasingly crowded Richmond grocery market.

“Giant, Martin's is backed up by the purchasing power of a global powerhouse. This will be great for our customers,” Bobby Ukrop said Thursday afternoon. For Richmond, losing Ukrop's represents the loss of arguably its most iconic retail brand. The chain employs approximately 3,900 people.

See also: Frozen Over - In losing Ukrop's, Richmond is left searching for an identity. By Chris Dovi and Scott Bass.

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