Suffolk to say goodbye to Farm Fresh

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, March 15, 2018

Suffolk will have to wave goodbye to Farm Fresh as SUPERVALU announced deals to sell 21 of its 38 Farm Fresh stores to Kroger, Harris Teeter and Food Lion on Wednesday.

“We’ve announced that we plan to exit our Farm Fresh banner and today we have agreements to sell 21 of our 38 locations,” said SUPERVALU spokesman Jeffrey Swanson. “We are also continuing to explore potential transactions to sell the remaining Farm Fresh stores to current and prospective wholesale customers and certain Farm Fresh employees.”

Included in those 21 stores were both Suffolk locations — 1401 N. Main St. and 3675 Bridge Road. Harris Teeter purchased the North Suffolk location, and Kroger will take over the downtown location.

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The deal is expected to close sometime in May, and both stores intend to remodel and re-open under the new store’s names.

SUPERVALU had store-wide meetings with current Farm Fresh employees on Wednesday to discuss the future and possibilities of being hired to the new stores.

“Overall, we are working with the buyers to ensure a smooth transition, and we expect them to offer positions to many of our Farm Fresh employees,” Swanson said. “In addition, we plan to offer eligible employees severance and other job transition support.”

While SUPERVALU is working to ensure employment, Kroger will be conducting open job interviews and “are interested in speaking with anyone that wants to join our team,” spokeswoman Allison McGee said in an email.

There is no concrete closing date for the current Farm Fresh grocery stores, but there will be a considerable gap between the closing and opening of the new stores.

“At this time, we are not certain about the time it will take to transform the stores. We anticipate the entire process to reopen all eight Kroger Mid-Atlantic stores will take anywhere from eight weeks to six months,” McGee said.

Not all pharmacies were included in the sale of the grocery stores, but the North Suffolk location will keep its pharmacy. The pharmacy will also stay open during any remodeling period Harris Teeter requires.

Kroger’s purchase of the North Main Street location included the pharmacy, and they only anticipate a 24-hour closure to transfer information into their own system, according to McGee.

Now, with the purchase of the two Farm Fresh locations, there will be two Kroger stores and two Harris Teeter stores in Suffolk.

Food Lion still dominates Suffolk’s grocery store market, with five locations.

Farm Fresh began in 1957 and used to dominate Hampton Roads. During the ’80s, the grocery store merged with Giant Open Air Markets before being purchased in a buyout by Citicorp in 1988.