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    Associated Grocers Plans Warehouse Expansion

    GARDINER, Maine -- Associated Grocers of Maine, the biggest private employer here, said last week that it would proceed with a $5 million expansion of its warehouse, according to published reports.

    GARDINER, Maine -- Associated Grocers of Maine, the biggest private employer here, said last week that it would proceed with a $5 million expansion of its warehouse, according to published reports.

    The customer-owned cooperative, which distributes food to about 320 independent grocery stores, plans to increase its facility by 41,000 square feet, so as to expand meat and fruit offerings in a bid to tap into the trend for fresh, healthful fare.

    Associated spokesman Cathy Callahan told the Portland Press-Herald that the company expects to break ground at the end of June and wrap up construction by February 2006.

    Back in 2002 Associated planned a similar expansion, but sluggish sales kept it from happening, Callahan noted in the newspaper.

    The company's 220,000-square-foot facility currently employs about 200 people. Callahan said that Associated could add workers after the expansion if, as expected, the cooperative's meat and fruit sales rise.

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