Lidl purchasing six Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores from UNFI
Wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has entered into definitive agreements to sell 13 of its 43 Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores to three separate grocery operators with private label powerhouse Lidl being one of the buyers.
The 13 sold stores UNFI is selling are in Baltimore (Alameda and Anchor Square locations); Annapolis, Md.; Brooklyn Park, Md.; California, Md.; Colmar Manor, Md.; Capitol Heights, Md.; Landover, Md.; Oxon Hill, Md.; Takoma Park, Md.; Waldorf, Md.; Wheaton Md.; and Burke, Va.
The locations to be purchased by Lidl are in Annapolis, Brooklyn Park, Oxon Hill, Takoma Park, Wheaton and Burke.
A spokeswoman for Arlington, Va.-based Lidl, which has been slowly expanding on the East Coast and in other Eastern states, told Progressive Grocer, Store Brands’ sister publication, that Lidl “will be making significant investments in the redevelopment of these sites, and will have more to share in terms of the grand opening timeline at the end of next year."
Transactions for the sale of Shoppers Food & Pharmacy to Lidl and the other unidentified grocery operators are expected to close between mid-December and the end of February, subject to customary closing conditions. In connection with the sales, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy will wind down operations at these locations, including the sale of any remaining inventory and closure of the stores before they reopen under their new banners.
Germany-based Lidl, which has more than 10,000 stores in 28 European countries, arrived in the U.S. with much fanfare in 2017 and planned to open 100 U.S. stores by mid-2018. But Lidl slowed its expansion for various reasons and currently operates nearly 80 stores in the U.S.
UNFI also said it will also close four additional Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores by the end of January in Baltimore (Liberty Road), Severn, Md.; Alexandria, Va.; and Manassas, Va. The other Shoppers Food & Pharmacy will remain open while UNFI continues to look for buyers.
The moves “[reflect] progress on our commitment to reduce UNFI’s retail footprint and [mark] another step toward transforming UNFI into North America’s premier food wholesaler,” noted Steven L. Spinner, the company’s chairman and CEO. “We believe that exiting the retail business will further accelerate our business transformation and allow us to more appropriately allocate resources toward long-term growth initiatives.”
Combined with Minneapolis-based Supervalu, which it acquired in 2018, UNFI is the largest publicly traded grocery distributor in the United States.
Goldschmidt is managing editor of Progressive Grocer, Store Brands' sister publication.