GRADUAL CHANGE IN STORE AT FORMER GRAND UNIONS

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- C&S Wholesale Grocers here said last week it plans to make gradual changes at the 31 former Grand Union locations that it will operate as corporate stores.According to Carl Wistreich, vice president and associate general counsel, C&S will retain the Grand Union banner on the stores. The company is putting in its own management team and plans to make changes to enhance the operations

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- C&S Wholesale Grocers here said last week it plans to make gradual changes at the 31 former Grand Union locations that it will operate as corporate stores.

According to Carl Wistreich, vice president and associate general counsel, C&S will retain the Grand Union banner on the stores. The company is putting in its own management team and plans to make changes to enhance the operations over the next six months, he said.

However, he declined to pinpoint any specific enhancements C&S intends to make.

Grand Union sold or closed all its stores earlier this month after filing its third Chapter 11 petition in fives years last October. C&S, which agreed in November to acquire most of its assets, has been Grand Union's primary wholesale supplier for several years.

The stores it will operate are located in upstate New York and Vermont.

Wistreich said C&S intends to operate the stores on a long-term basis, though it will entertain offers to buy some of those units.

The distributor has occasionally operated handfuls of corporate stores during its 83-year history, "but never on this scale," Wistreich said.

He said the decision to operate corporate stores was an ancillary benefit of the company's Grand Union transaction, in which it acquired 168 of the 186 Grand Union locations. Grand Union closed the other 18, and C&S plans to reject the leases at 18 of the 168 remaining locations, Wistreich said.

Another 45 stores have been sold to chain operators -- 20 to Tops Friendly Markets, Williamsville, N.Y., a division of Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va.; 19 to Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass.; and six to Pathmark Stores, Carteret, N.J. -- and the balance of 92 will be sold to a combination of chain, independent and non-supermarket operators over the next 90 days.

Of the 92 stores, 42 will be sold to Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass., a division of Ahold USA; five will be sold to the Hannaford division of Delhaize America, Salisbury, N.C.; 30 will be sold to independent food operators; and 15 will be sold to non-supermarket operators.