Giant considers moving distribution operation

Sites in Va., Howard Co. are options for replacing obsolete Landover center

April 23, 2002|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Giant Food Inc. will decide within a month whether it will move a major food distribution operation out of Landover to a site either in Howard County or Stafford County, Va.

A spokesman for the supermarket chain said yesterday that it is weighing incentives offered by both Maryland and Virginia, as well as operating costs associated with each location.

Giant, which is owned by Dutch food giant Royal Ahold NV, said in a statement yesterday that its 45-year-old perishable-food distribution center in Landover could "no longer efficiently serve" its stores and customers. When the facility opened, Giant operated 35 stores; now the chain has 187.

"It's very antiquated," said Giant spokesman Barry F. Scher. "There's no room for expansion whatsoever. We've added new facilities there since 1957 and it's helter-skelter. ... It's become very difficult to service our stores with that facility."

Giant's headquarters will remain in Landover, Scher said. Giant said it expects to offer jobs when the new center opens next year to the 550 employees who work at the Landover center. The company also has a distribution center for dry groceries and frozen food in Jessup.

Exploring a distribution center in Virginia makes sense for Giant, Scher said. "We have store growth that way, and we're looking along the I-95 corridor."

He declined to give the specific locations in or incentives offered by either state.

Giant has 108 stores in Maryland and 62 in Virginia. The rest are in Washington, Delaware and New Jersey.

David S. Iannucci, Maryland's secretary of business and economic development, said the state worked with Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard counties to coordinate "local packages and presentations" to Giant and Royal Ahold to keep the distribution center in the state.

Iannucci declined to give specifics on incentives offered but said that the package included loans, grants and training assistance. "We consider it a very high priority to maintain these 550 jobs in the state of Maryland," he said.

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