Local Farm Fresh on chopping block

Published 12:04 pm Thursday, March 15, 2018


The Farm Fresh on Armory Drive in Franklin is not on the list of stores being sold by its parent company, Supervalu Inc., to other grocery stores chains, namely Food Lion, Harris-Teeter and Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division.

On Wednesday evening, the Minnesota-based Supervalu Inc. announced on www.supervalu.com it was selling 21 of its 38 stores to the aforementioned retailers for about $43 million in cash.

Local Farm Fresh Manager Joshua Parks said he could not comment on the matter. He deferred any questions to Jeff Swanson, vice president of corporate communications of Supervalu.

Swanson was contacted via phone and email and asked if the local Farm Fresh would be closed and, if so, what is the anticipated closing date.

He replied via email and confirmed the announcement of the sale. He could not give any specific details on the Franklin store now. However, in a letter hand-delivered to employees of the Franklin store on Wednesday evening, the company announced it would be conducting mass layoffs at the Armory Drive location. The letter goes on to state the company expects the layoffs to be permanent, and that they would go into effect on Monday, May 14.

Regarding the 17 stores not sold, Swanson stated, “The most important thing to note for these stores and communities is that we are continuing to have discussions and exploring potential transactions to sell the remaining Farm Fresh stores to current and prospective Supervalu wholesale customers as well as interested Farm Fresh employees. We don’t have a timeline other than to say these discussions are ongoing.”

People using the pharmacy at the local store will have until Friday, April 6, to get their prescriptions filled, which will be the last day the pharmacy will be open. Their prescription files will be sent to Rite Aid, also on Armory Drive. They will be getting details about this via mail within seven to 10 days. The pharmacy will also be providing details.

The company’s president and CEO Mark Gross said in the online release that the sale of the Farm Fresh brand will, “enable us to allocate greater resources and energy toward the strategic growth of our wholesale business.”

Gross added, “This decision was not taken lightly given the impact on our employees and the communities we serve, but we strongly believe this decision is in the best long-term financial and strategic interest of our business. Our leadership team and board of directors remain committed to taking proactive steps to transform our business and drive stockholder value.”

Anne Dament, executive vice president of retail, marketing and private brands, said, “We are thankful for the tremendous service our employees have delivered at Farm Fresh through the years, and are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to share in the lives and special events of our customers and employees across the Hampton Roads, Richmond, Williamsburg and Elizabeth City communities. We are working with the buyers to ensure a smooth transition and we expect them to offer positions to many Farm Fresh employees. In addition, we plan to offer eligible employees severance and other job transition support.”