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LI's Kings Food Market to stay open as parent company finds new buyer, union reps say

Kings Food Market in Garden City, seen here,

Kings Food Market in Garden City, seen here, is expected to remain open, union representatives say. Credit: Chris Ware

A winning bankruptcy auction bid for 27 grocery stores, submitted by a division of the second-largest supermarket operator in the country, includes the Kings Food Market in Garden City, two union representatives said.

Acme Markets Inc., which is a division of the Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Companies Inc., bid $96.4 million Tuesday for 27 Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lover’s Markets in the bankruptcy auction of KB US Holdings Inc. The only Long Island store is the Kings Food in Garden City, at 870 Franklin Ave.

KB is a Parsippany, New Jersey-based owner of 35 East Coast grocery stores — 25 Kings Food Markets, which is a high-end chain, and 10 Balducci’s Food Lover’s Markets, a specialty gourmet chain.

"We are so pleased that with this successful bid from Acme that both the Kings and Balducci’s brands will continue their proud traditions of offering the finest food and premium service for our customers for years to come," Judy Spires, chief executive officer of KB, said in a statement Tuesday.

Acme and KB declined to say which 27 stores will be part of the sale, which still requires approval from the bankruptcy court and U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

But representatives from United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1500 in Westbury and Local 342 in Mineola, both of which represent employees at the Kings Food Market in Garden City, said Thursday that store will be part of the sale and will remain open.

About 70 people work at the Garden City store, according to KB.

UFCW Local 342 represents 23 employees in the store’s meat and seafood departments, said Keeley Lampo, activities and communications director for Local 342.

UFCW Local 1500 represents about 40 employees working as cashiers and in produce, dairy and other departments, president Rob Newell said.

Sixty-six percent of Kings’ workers are unionized, and two of the pension funds for union employees are underfunded, including one with the UFCW Local 1500, according to a KB bankruptcy court document.

Contract negotiations still have to occur between Acme and the unions, Newell said.

The court hearing to consider approval of the sale is Oct. 22.

KB filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in August.

In July, Manhattan investment firm TLI Bedrock submitted a stalking horse bid, or starting bid, of $75 million to buy KB, including 30 of its stores, according to a court document.

Now TLI’s offer is considered a "back-up bid."

Albertsons Companies operates 2,252 stores across 34 states and Washington, D.C., under 20 names, including Albertsons, Safeway and Acme.

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