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In a bid to grow its presence in western Pennsylvania, Giant Eagle, Inc. is buying five former Penn Traffic stores from their current owner, Tops Markets, LLC. The five stores are in the towns of Brookville, DuBois, Johnstown, St. Marys and Titusville. All operate under BiLo Foods, except for the Titusville location, which is a Quality Market. Tops purchased the stores as part of the Jan. 29, 2010, bankruptcy court-approved acquisition of a majority of Syracuse, N.Y.-based Penn Traffic’s assets, including its 79 supermarkets.
The transaction is expected to be complete in 35 to 40 days. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
“Given our nearly 80-year history as a leading regional food retailer with strong western Pennsylvania roots, we were approached by Tops Markets more than a month ago regarding these locations,” recounted Dan Shapira, special counsel at Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle. “Tops informed us that these stores were outside of their geographic footprint, and as such would ultimately be closed and the employees terminated. We believe there is an opportunity to refurbish these stores and bring to consumers of the area an overall improved shopping experience.”
“As part of our initial evaluation of all Penn Traffic locations, it was determined these stores were on the outer edge of our geographic footprint and would best be served by another retailer with more familiarity with those markets,” affirmed Frank Curci, president and CEO of Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops, which currently operates 76 full-service supermarkets — 71 company-owned and five franchise locations — in western New York, central New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.
Under the deal, Tops has begun its planned store inventory liquidation sales in anticipation of the ultimate closure of the five stores. Once the locations have closed, the properties will be turned over to Giant Eagle. Throughout the liquidation sales, closures and transition period, the in-store pharmacies at the Brookville and DuBois stores will stay open, enabling customers to keep ordering and picking up their prescriptions.
Further, Giant Eagle will acquire the pharmacy records for the former Penn Traffic pharmacies in the Brookville, DuBois and Johnstown stores, and plans to continue running the existing pharmacies at Brookville and DuBois. The pharmacy files from the Johnstown location will be taken over by the nearby Goucher Street Giant Eagle.
According to the grocer, “Giant Eagle is evaluating all opportunities regarding these stores, including reaching out to its experienced independent ownership group to gauge interest in the operation of some of these locations.” Additionally, the company is inviting affected associates apply for jobs both at the purchased locations and other regional Giant Eagle stores.