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    Local Bidders Said Vying for A&P's Sav-A-Center Stores

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P's 21 Sav-A-Center supermarkets in Louisiana and Mississippi could be sold as soon as October, according to speculation in the New Orleans-area, although the A&P's insistence on selling all of the stores to a single purchaser could be a complicating factor.

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P's 21 Sav-A-Center supermarkets in Louisiana and Mississippi could be sold as soon as October, according to speculation in the New Orleans-area, although the A&P's insistence on selling all of the stores to a single purchaser could be a complicating factor.

    A local press report noted that some potential New Orleans-area bidders have neither the money nor the geographic reach to spring for all of the locations, and that a buying consortium of independent grocers might be a more workable alternative.

    "It's always been our objective and focus to sell the stores as one unit," A&P executive chairman Christian Haub told New Orleans City Business. "At this point, I have no reason to believe we won't sell the business as one."

    Nevertheless, the owners of local banners Breaux Mart and Zuppardo's told the business newspaper that they would be interested in only a handful of locations. Rouse's Supermarkets denied being in talks with A&P, but said it is "always interested in locations."

    Speculation has pegged Keene, N.H.-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and Cincinnati's Kroger Co. as major bidders for the stores, which average, 43,400 square feet.

    "We're in the process of negotiating," Haub told the publication. "Once we have a signed contract we'll disclose, (but) until then we're keeping the people we're negotiating with very confidential."

    The sale of the Sav-A-Center stores will allow A&P to concentrate on its core Northeastern market, where it is now in the process of merging with erstwhile rival Pathmark.

    According to spokesman Rick DeSanta, the Sav-A-Center stores will stay open at least until the sale closes.

    A&P and C&S couldn't be reached by Progressive Grocer for further comment. Kroger said that its policy doesn't permit it to "comment on rumors or speculation."

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