By Kyle Barr and Jakub Lewkowicz
Almost 5,000 people on Long Island working for businesses under the parent company of The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company Inc. (A&P) may find themselves unemployed by October 12 because of A&P’s bankruptcy.
Only a few months after the major north-east supermarket company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on July 19th, the company has already closed 5 stores on Long Island, including the Waldbaums in Riverhead and the Pathmark in Centereach. Out of the 47 locations of Waldbaums and Pathmarks on Long Island, excluding the ones out of business, 13 are being sold and the rest are up for auction, according to documents supplied to the state. A total of 4,732 may be receiving pink slips by mid-October.
“Many people are concerned they are going to lose their jobs. Some of them have been working there for decades,” Nikki Kateman, the spokesperson at the Local 338 chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said. “For a lot of (employees) they were shocked, but for others, it was kind of expected.”
The company has been in the red before. A&P had also filed for bankruptcy back in 2011. Now, the corporation had racked up $2.3 billion in debt and held only $1.6 billion in assets. 95 of A&P’s stores have already been sold, and the corporation has set dates to auction off the rest of its businesses on October 1st and 2nd, according to public documents. More than 100 companies have shown interest, according to public documents.
“Once all the stores are closed, I presume a lot of workers will have to find other jobs,” Brian Voker, an associate broker from Schuckman Realty said. “It’s hard to say what stores will take their place because in this market there are retailers that are expanding. They’ll take the most profitable stores and fill them in. Some are going to sit empty because they were at inferior locations.”
Companies like Stop and Shop, which already bought 24 locations, have already agreed to make a seamless transition for the employees, including their union memberships, Kateman said. However, it is still unknown whether the other companies who get the winning bids will agree to all or any of the union’s terms.
In a news release by PRNewswire, Stop and Shop said they had agreed to acquire 25 A&P stores in the Greater New York area for $146 million. They plan to convert the Waldbaums and Pathmarks into Stop and Shop stores.
The Communications and Training Manager of A&P, Joanne Fischette, pointed to the documents that were for public use, and were supplied to the state government. The spokesperson did not respond to questions on how the parent company’s stores would operate in the near future.