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A&P, Once Dominant Grocery Chain, Files for Bankruptcy Again



(p. B1) A&P, a former titan of the grocery industry, has filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in five years and is trying to sell more than 100 of its stores.

The company, which owns Pathmark, Food Emporium and other food retailers clustered primarily in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, said on Sunday that a restructuring in 2010 had failed to put it on secure enough financial footing to keep up with a shifting grocery landscape.

A&P, less commonly referred to as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, has lost market share to competing stores like ShopRite and Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, as well Walmart and Target, retail giants that have spent the last few years expanding their offerings in the grocery aisles. A&P has debts of about $2.3 billion, court filings show, and assets of $1.6 billion.


. . .


Founded in 1859 as a mail-order tea business, A&P evolved into a discount food retailer that operated 16,000 stores by the mid-1930s and remained a dominant player in America's grocery landscape into the second half of the century.

"It was truly a powerhouse," said Marc Levinson, an independent historian and the author of "The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America." "In those days, independent grocers were every bit as afraid of A&P as mom-and-pop retailers are today of Walmart."

In 1912, A&P opened its first discount store in Jersey City. The idea of a retailer focused on low-cost groceries was novel at the time, and a reputation for rock-bottom prices helped the company flourish.

"They were opening stores literally more than one a day during World War I," Mr. Levinson said.



For the full story, see:

RACHEL ABRAMS. "A&P Files for Bankruptcy and Aims to Sell 120 Stores." The New York Times (Tues., JULY 21, 2015): B3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date JULY 20, 2015.)


Levinson's excellent book on the economic history of A&P, mentioned above, is:

Levinson, Marc. The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2011.






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