Ukrop's Deal Could Be Done in Weeks: Source

Jul 16, 2009 6:00 AM, By JON SPRINGER

RICHMOND, Va. — Ukrop's, the iconic family-run supermarket chain founded here 72 years ago, could be sold within weeks, sources told SN Wednesday. The family that runs the 28-store chain is currently in talks with multiple bidders, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

It is believed that Ruddick Corp., parent of the Harris Teeter chain, along with Ahold and Delhaize, are among potential bidders. Supervalu, Ukrop’s primary supplier, has dropped out of the bidding process but remains in the picture as a potential supplier, sources added.

Ukrop's did not respond to a request for comment. Spokespeople for Harris Teeter, Ahold and Supervalu all declined comment. Delhaize spokespeople were not immediately available for comment. Sources said talks began when Ukrop's — which has been struggling recently and does not have a plan for succession within the family — contacted select strategic buyers to gauge their interest, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Those talks have now progressed "to the getting-serious stage," a source said. Ukrop's, which once held a commanding market share in Richmond, has slipped more recently amid increased competition, a difficult economy and some questionable real estate deals, sources said.