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A&P sells 95 stores for $370M, possibly saving nearly 11,000 jobs

Signs of change were apparent Monday, Sept. 21,

Signs of change were apparent Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, at a Waldbaum's in Huntington as supermarket operator Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. won bankruptcy court approval to sell 95 of its stores for $370 million, including nine on Long Island. Credit: Phil Nobile

Supermarket operator Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. has won bankruptcy court approval to sell 95 of its stores for $370 million, including nine on Long Island, potentially preserving more than 10,750 jobs.

At a hearing Monday in White Plains, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved the sale of 71 A&P stores to Acme Markets Inc. for $246 million and 24 stores to Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. for $124 million. A&P filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in July.

Stop & Shop has agreed to acquire Waldbaum's locations in East Hampton, Southampton, Baldwin, Massapequa, Long Beach and Huntington; and Pathmarks in Greenvale, Seaford and Franklin Square. Acme Markets did not agree to purchase any stores on Long Island.

Acme and Stop & Shop expect to reach labor agreements with the union representing workers at those stores, A&P representatives said, keeping many or most of those workers employed.

Separately, Montvale, New Jersey-based A&P is now seeking additional bids for 17 stores that Key Food Stores Co-operative Inc. had agreed to take over, including two on Long Island, court documents show.

Although A&P is seeking higher bids for the 17 stores, Key Food has not ended its bid to buy them, a Key Food representative said.

A&P declined to comment.

Locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, including Mineola-based Local 338, Westbury-based Local 1500 and Mineola-based Local 342, have met with Stop & Shop, Acme Markets and Key Food regarding their acquisition of A&P's stores.

"Both Stop & Shop and Acme have said that they will hire from the workforce," Local 338 spokeswoman Nikki Kateman said. "We have also reached tentative labor agreements with the two companies that protect the workers' wages and benefits."

Other potential buyers made bids on 39 of the stores Acme Markets sought to purchase and 16 of the stores Stop & Shop wanted to buy. Still, Acme and Stop & Shop had the "highest and best offers," Stephen Goldstein, the senior managing director of Evercore Group LLC, a financial advisory and investment banking firm, said in court documents filed Friday.

Key Food had agreed in July to take over 19 stores, but reduced its offers to 17 stores. Key Food is seeking to take over two Waldbaum's locations on Long Island, in Albertson and Glen Head.

Last week, A&P extended for a second time the deadline for bid submissions on 177 stores, including 36 Waldbaum's and Pathmarks on Long Island. The deadline, originally Sept. 11, was Monday at 5 p.m.

Stores without successful bids are to be auctioned on Oct. 1 and 2. Successful bidders will be announced Oct. 3.

A&P also plans to close five supermarkets on Long Island: Pathmark stores in Centereach and on Grand Avenue in Baldwin, and Waldbaum's in Carle Place, Oceanside and Riverhead.

Last month, A&P announced that more than 5,000 employees at stores on Long Island could lose their jobs between October and Thanksgiving. It's still uncertain exactly how many workers will lose their jobs. Much will hinge on how many stores A&P can sell.

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