It appears that Germantown may lose a grocery store in the future, or not. It was disclosed this week in numerous press reports that the parent company that owns Shoppers Food and Pharmacy stores is leaving the retail business, which could mean that the Shoppers Store in the Cloppers Mill Shopping Center on Great Seneca Highway in Germantown may be closing. However, according to a company official that may not be the case.
“Several of the recent media reports have said that Shoppers Food and Pharmacy stores are closing,” said Jeff Swanson, National Vice President, Corporate Communications and Media Relations with UNFI, the parent company of Shoppers. “I want to clarify that there are no immediate plans for any Shoppers stores to close.”
The four Shoppers stores in Montgomery County were owned by a holding company called SUPERVALU, Inc., which was made up of a number of regional brands including Shoppers in the Mid-Atlantic region, Hornbacher’s in the Dakotas, Cub Foods in Minnesota and Illinois, and Shop ‘n Save stores in the St. Louis area.
In 2018, the grocery wholesale company called United National Foods Incorporated (UNFI), based in Providence, R.I.-based UNFI., acquired SUPERVALU, Inc. to for the chain’s wholesale food operations and UNFI plans to leave the retail business to focus on its wholesale and distribution channels according to Swanson.
“What we previously communicated was that UNFI plans to thoughtfully and economically divest its retail operations and the company is making progress on that front,” said Swanson in an email to Germantown Pulse. “As this is an ongoing and fluid process, we don’t have any specific updates or timing to share. When there is something to communicate we will do so. But, most importantly, we want to be clear that UNFI has not announced any plans for store closures.”
What this means, is that at some point in the future the Shoppers location in Germantown and all Shoppers stores, it may be sold to another grocery brand, or it may close altogether — but there is no closure or sale planned in the near term. Shoppers will remain open until UNFI can find a buyer, or no longer wants to hold the locations on their books.
The Baltimore Sun reported that UNFI’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Spinner told investors that the company is “well down the path on selling Shoppers, and I’m confident we’ll get that done in the coming months,” during a March 5 earnings call.
Indeed, UNFI has sold a number of its stores to other grocery chains including Carlie, Penn., based-GIANT Food Stores. Now, if you are not confused enough, GIANT Food Stores do not own any of the Giant brand stores in Germantown or Montgomery County. The GIANT Food Stores and Giant brand stores are separate brands owned by multi-national Dutch food retail conglomerate AHOLD Delhaize.
According to UNFI’s March 2019 SEC filing, the results of operations for the 26-week period ended January 26, 2019, reflect net sales of $773.6 million and Income from discontinued operations. The company said, “discontinued operations primarily include the results of Cub Foods, Hornbacher’s, Shoppers and Shop ‘n Save East reflect assets, liabilities, operations results and cash flows of these four banners.”
Shoppers began in 1949 as Jumbo Food Stores. According to its website, "Shoppers offers a full-service supermarket with everything consumers have come to expect from a grocer while never forgetting our 'Everyday Low Warehouse Pricing' roots."
Top: The Shoppers Food Store in the Clopper Mill Shopping Center on Great Seneca Highway in Germantown is one of four Shoppers stores in Montgomery County.
Photo by Germantown Pulse