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    A&P Said Mulling Bids for Farmer Jack Stores

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- The Great & Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., Inc. here is said to be quietly looking at potential bidders to take the 66 remaining Farmer Jack grocery stores in southeast Michigan off its hands, according to a local press report.

    MONTVALE, N.J. -- The Great & Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., Inc. here is said to be quietly looking at potential bidders to take the 66 remaining Farmer Jack grocery stores in southeast Michigan off its hands, according to a local press report.

    When contacted by Progressive Grocer seeking confirmation of local press reports on the bids, A&P declined to comment.

    Sources were quoted saying potential bidders were looking at piecemeal deals. "It looks like a number of people such as food companies and large conglomerates will be bidding for Farmer Jack," retail analyst and consultant Ken Dalto told the Detroit News. "From what I understand, the bidders will cherry-pick the assets they want. It won't be a lock-stock-and-barrel purchase."

    The newspaper reported that A&P had retained Chicago-based investment firm William Blair & Co., which has handled previous divestitures for the company, to oversee the Farmer Jack sale.

    Potential bidders for the stores were said to include Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spartan Stores, which said just last week it would acquire 20 Felpausch Food Centers, as well as two fuel centers and three convenience stores from the company; and supercenter pioneer Meijer, Inc. whose headquarters is also in Grand Rapids.

    A&P nearly shut down its Farmer Jack stores two years ago, when its 5,000 workers refused to accept a 10-percent wage cut; but employees agreed to the reduction after the retailer promised to keep a minimum of 60 stores open until March 5 of this year.

    Earlier this month A&P said it would buy Carteret, N.J.-based Pathmark Stores, Inc. for $1.3 billion.

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