- Lidl has agreed to buy six of the 13 Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores for sale by United Natural Foods, Inc., according to a list published by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 and Local 27 unions, which represent Shoppers employees. A source familiar with the matter confirmed the deal. Lidl will acquire one store in Burke, Virginia, and five locations in Maryland: Annapolis, Oxon Hill, Brooklyn Park, Takoma Park and Wheaton.
- According to UFCW’s post, Compare Foods has agreed to purchase five Maryland locations, including two in Baltimore and one each in Colmar Manor, Capitol Heights and Landover. McKay’s is listed as the third buyer, picking up stores in California, Maryland, and Waldorf, Maryland.
- A spokesman for UNFI confirmed the locations UFCW released, but said final confirmation rested with the three retail chains. Grocery Dive reached out to Lidl, Compare Foods and McKay’s for confirmation and comment but did not hear back by press time.
UNFI just announced plans to sell the 13 Shoppers locations to three buyers Friday morning, with sales expected to close by February.
Lidl's pickup complements other recent acquisitions it's made in Maryland. The discounter announced in May it would open seven locations in the state by next spring, including two stores in Baltimore County. It also just announced its first Baltimore city location, anchoring a development near Morgan State University that will include a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
On Dec. 11, Lidl will open its first Long Island stores — part of a rollout of eight former Best Market stores over the next few months. The discounter is also filling in locations in New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia, the state where it has the most stores.
Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click, said Lidl has improved its real estate selection process after a shaky opening in the U.S. that began in 2017. He said the company is also ramping up its expansion campaign after it pulled back last year to make adjustments.
"When you take a look at their store location strategy alone, they're so much better than they used to be," Bishop told Grocery Dive.
Compare Foods, a division of Associated Supermarket Group, has more than a dozen locations in the Northeast and two stores in North Carolina. The Maryland stores would be its first locations in the state. McKay’s, meanwhile, operates three stores in southern Maryland.
In addition to the sales, UNFI said it will close four Shoppers stores located in Baltimore, Maryland; Severn, Maryland; Manassas, Virginia; and Alexandria, Virginia.
Along with its list of store acquisitions, UFCW said it was unhappy with what it called a lack of transparency from UNFI into the sale process, and indicated it may take legal action. The union says it was informed of the sale only minutes before the wholesaler sent out a press release announcing the transactions and closures.
A UNFI spokesman was unable to offer comment on the matter by press time.
"For the last year, we have requested, insisted, and demanded to be given information on the fate of these stores," UFCW Locals 400 and 27 wrote in a joint statement. "We have sent letters to the UNFI CEO demanding a meeting. We have gathered support from elected officials and community leaders, and we have held protests and demonstrations to demand straight answers. In response, we have been met with silence."
Krishna Thakker contributed reporting to this story.