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QUINCY, Mass. -- The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. here said Friday that it would close nine underperforming stores in southern New Jersey at the beginning next month, and, confirming much local press speculation, sell the locations' fixtures and assets to Elizabeth, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp., the co-op owned by independent ShopRite store operators.
The stores are located in Cherry Hill, Mt. Laurel, Absecon, Sicklerville, Laurel Springs, Rio Grande, and Mullica Hill, N.J.
"After a thorough review of the operating performance of these stores, we made a very difficult business decision to close these underperforming locations," said s.v.p. of operations Ron Onorato in a statement. "However, the closure of these stores will allow us to focus our investment and resources on growing our business in other areas in the Northeast."
The grocer additionally said it would shutter its store at 330 Route 211 East in Middletown, N.Y. at around the same time. Wakefern will also buy this store's fixtures and assets.
"This was a difficult decision, since it impacts both our loyal customers and our valued associates," observed Onorato. "We regret any inconvenience this will cause."
The grocer has created job transition initiatives, and will be working with a job outplacement firm, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions, and state and local government officials to assist store employees affected by the store closings.
"[W]e will work to support [associates] through this transition by providing outplacement services, including resume preparation and interview skills training and other career transition services," noted Onorato.
As it becomes available, information specific to Stop & Shop customers will be given at each store. Customers with questions can call Stop & Shop's Consumer Affairs Department.
Stop & Shop employs more than 59,000 associates and operates 389 stores throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey.