Giant to close 5 stores, 3 in Baltimore area

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 06, 2007|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN REPORTER

Giant Food Inc. said yesterday that it would close five of its oldest stores, including three in the Baltimore area, as it tries to improve its standing in the market by focusing on larger and new locations.

Stores closing in the Baltimore area are: the Joppa Heights Shopping Center location at 1925 E. Joppa Road in Baltimore; the Baltimore Shopping Center store at 110 Stemmers Run Road in Essex; and the Randallstown Plaza Giant at 3637 Offutt Road.

Giant also is closing stores in Riverdale in Prince George's County and in Fairfax, Va. The area's largest supermarket chain operates 190 stores in Virginia, Maryland, Washington and Delaware.

Giant officials said they would close the stores after the Easter holiday.

About 250 workers are employed at the five stores. A Giant spokesman said the grocer is working with the United Food and Commercial Workers union to determine what will happen to the employees.

Union officials couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

The closings come as Giant has lost market share in recent years, in part, because new grocers such as Wegmans Gourmet Foods Inc. have moved into the area. And more competition is on the way: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently announced it was bringing three Supercenter stores with supermarkets to the area.

Giant recently introduced a new store prototype and has lowered prices on some products to better compete. It also has been renovating stores and building new locations. Last week it opened a 56,000-square-foot store in Urbana in Frederick County and completed renovations at a store in Bear, Del.

The company said it wasn't worth it to renovate the five stores it's closing. Those locations average about 20,000 square feet, compared with the average store size of 58,000 square feet. Each store is also more than 30 years old and Giant doesn't own the buildings.

"They're smaller stores," said Giant spokesman Barry Scher. "It's just not economically plausible to bring them up-to-date.

"We still have an aggressive marketing effort under way and are constantly looking for sites to develop new stores," he said. "If anything, we're accelerating the store remodeling program to bring older stores up-to-date."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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