The president of a Mays Landing-based food workers union says employees of four South Jersey grocery stores owned by parent A&P will keep their jobs under new ownership by Acme Markets.

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which owns Super Fresh and Pathmark brands in Atlantic, Cape May and southern Ocean counties, recently filed a state-required mass layoff notice identifying 509 employees working at those four locations.

The struggling supermarket chain filed for bankruptcy protection in July as it sought to sell and shed many of its stores, and shortly after Acme said it wanted to buy those four stores as part of a 76-location deal.

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Brian String, president of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 152, said the recent state Labor and Workforce Development filing was strictly a formality in the region.

“Acme will take over these and we believe it will be a seamless transition. All our members will continue to work,” he said Monday.

Acme spokeswoman Danielle D’Elia said Acme plans to hire substantially all of the A&P employees from stores it acquires.

The company is still awaiting approval from the Federal Trade Commission and cannot provide timelines on when the acquisition may take place, she said.

Super Fresh stores are located in Ocean City, North Wildwood and Manahawkin. A Pathmark is located in Ventnor.

String said he looks forward to Acme taking over these locations, which he said he expects to happen in September.

“I think Acme will put significant resources in these stores,” String said.

One of the criticisms lobbed against A&P, which also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December of 2010, is the Montvale, Bergen County-based company did not adequately invest in updating its stores as it slipped in a competitive supermarket environment.

Matthew Casey, supermarket real estate specialist with Matthew P. Casey & Associates in Clark, N.J., said in an interview in July that A&P did a poor job reacting to competition.

“They did nothing in the last decade, in my opinion, to keep up with the competition,” he said. “They laid down and let new stores come in and eat their lunch.”

The state labor notice lists 125 employees at the Ventnor Pathmark. At Super Fresh, listed were 138 employees in North Wildwood; 171 in Ocean City; and 75 in Manahawkin.

The transition would be a contrast to when A&P closed supermarkets in the region following its 2010 bankruptcy reorganization.

Super Fresh groceries in Hammonton and Middle Township closed in 2011 and did not reopen as grocery stores.

The Middle Township location in a Cape May Court House strip mall sat vacant for nearly two years before becoming a Big Lots in 2013.


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