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PITTSBURGH - Affirming what local observers have speculated was coming for weeks, Giant Eagle, Inc. here said yesterday it is acquiring 18 stores in northeastern Ohio from Tops Markets, the Ahold subsidiary that was put on the block in early July.
The deal will find the Pittsburgh market's leading grocer operating 13 new, corporately-owned Giant Eagle stores; one independently-owned Giant Eagle location; and four Dave's Supermarkets with Giant Eagle pharmacies. The family-run Dave's operates nine Cleveland-area locations, and was founded by Dave Saltzman in 1928.
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The new supermarket locations - situated in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain, Medina, and Huron counties -- will complement the existing 112 Giant Eagle supermarkets in Ohio, and preserve jobs for thousands of northeast Ohio residents, the chain said. Giant Eagle first entered the northeast Ohio market in 1998.
Giant Eagle said it expects the transaction to close in the fourth quarter. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Tops and Giant Eagle said they have been working together with the leadership of the Local 880 United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union and Local 19 of the Bakers, Confectioners, Tobacconists, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union to preserve as many of the full and part time jobs in the region as possible.
Tops -- a unit of the Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant Food Stores -- will now be left with 72 Tops Markets and four Martin's Super Food Stores in New York and Pennsylvania. Tops said it continues to work with prospective purchasers for the remaining stores, and will be finalizing additional agreements by the end of the year.
After Tops' store inventory liquidation sales are completed in early December, Giant Eagle said the stores will close temporarily for restocking and re-merchandising. During this temporary closure, the in-store pharmacies will remain open, allowing customers to continue to order and pick up prescriptions. Giant Eagle will then reopen the former Tops locations in a phased approach, beginning in mid-December, with a second round of stores opening in January of 2007, and culminating in late summer of 2007 with three stores which will replace existing Giant Eagle supermarkets.
Giant Eagle said it further anticipates that the stores will undergo progressive enhancements in the future. It also said it further plans to aggressively pursue additional GetGo locations in the northeast Ohio marketplace to add additional redemption locations for its popular fuelperks! loyalty rewards program.
Agreeing to acquire the pharmacy records for the Tops pharmacies, Giant Eagle said it intends to provide a convenient and seamless transition for new customers whose prescription files are involved in the purchase, and for other customers affected by the pending Tops store closures. Giant Eagle plans to operate pharmacies in both Giant Eagle and Dave's supermarkets involved in the transaction.
Giant Eagle said it will release further details about the transaction the chain's evolving presence in Ohio later.