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As it prepares to close the stores it hasn't yet been able to sell, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) is expected to ask U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain on Friday to extend its exclusive right to control the company's Chapter 11 reorganization until March 16, and the solicitation period for approval of its bankruptcy plan until May 16, according to a published report, which notes that those rights currently expire on Monday, Nov. 16 and Jan. 15, 2016, respectively.
The Bergen County Record, in New Jersey, added that requests for extensions are normal in complex corporate bankruptcy cases and are usually granted.
In the meantime, A&P is holding final clearance sales at various stores that are scheduled to shut their doors for good later this month. The Montvale, N.J.-based grocer has revealed its intention in court documents to hold further auctions for its unsold stores or to sell them in private sales.
So far, the court has given A&P the go-ahead to sell 167 of its 297 stores for a total of $615.7 million, and it has pending offers totaling $81 million for 20 additional stores. The company aims to raise a further $61 million by selling store inventories, and also received $42 million for selling the pharmacy records from 109 of its locations, as well as receiving a $1.75 million stalking horse offer from Staten Island, N.Y.-based Key Food for the intellectual property of the The Food Emporium banner.
John Niccollai, president of Local 464a of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents most North Jersey A&P associates, told the Record that he expects more potential buyers to emerge shortly.
"These stores are just too good to stay dormant indefinitely," he said, noting that prospective tenants could be waiting until A&P rejects the leases, so that the tenants can negotiate directly with the landlord, instead of taking over an existing A&P lease.