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QUINCY, Mass. -- The president of UFCW Local 152 has reportedly said that the conversion of nine financially struggling Stop & Shop supermarkets in southern New Jersey into ShopRite units is "imminent."
The stores that could close are two in Cherry Hill, two in Mount Laurel, and one each in Laurel Springs, Sicklerville, Mullica Hill, Galloway Township, and Cape May, according to the union official.
"I've been contacted by a Stop & Shop labor representative to begin effects bargaining, which is what takes place when a company is selling its assets or going bankrupt," Brian String told the Cherry Hill, N.J. Post-Courier. "I notified my members of the potential sale this week."
When contacted by Progressive Grocer, Stop & Shop spokesman Robert Keane said, "We are currently evaluating our future options for our nine stores in southern New Jersey. At this stage, no decisions have been finalized."
Wakefern officials were unavailable for comment.
In the Post-Courier article, company spokeswoman Karen Meleta referred reports of a sale of Stop & Shop stores to Wakefern as "way too premature." However, she added, "[W]e're always looking for opportunities to acquire more stores."
Local 152 represents about 400 workers in the nine stores, while UFCW Local 1360 represents another 600 employees.
String said he was in favor of a sale to Wakefern Food Corp., the co-op of the independently owned ShopRite stores, since "ShopRite is the industry powerhouse in New Jersey." One of the state's largest employers, Wakefern employs 30,000 workers and runs about 125 unionized ShopRite stores in New Jersey.
Sixty-four of Stop & Shop's approximately 360 stores are in New Jersey.