GRISTEDE'S RETURNING TO GARDEN STATE

NEW YORK -- Gristede's Supermarkets here said last week it plans to open its first supermarket in 20 years in northern New Jersey within the next two months, and expects to have as many as 10 to 15 stores in the state within the next two years.John Catsimatidis, Gristede's chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder, told SN that the supermarket situation in New Jersey attracted his

NEW YORK -- Gristede's Supermarkets here said last week it plans to open its first supermarket in 20 years in northern New Jersey within the next two months, and expects to have as many as 10 to 15 stores in the state within the next two years.

John Catsimatidis, Gristede's chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder, told SN that the supermarket situation in New Jersey attracted his attention last spring, when he was attempting to buy Kings Super Markets, Parsippany, N.J., from U.K.-based retailer Marks & Spencer. Ultimately, Marks & Spencer worked out a deal last month with D'Agostino Supermarkets, Larchmont, N.Y., although the transaction has not yet closed.

Catsimatidis observed that upscale shoppers in the state were underserved. "We learned that while in New York the middle class are being serviced by Food Emporium [a banner of A&P, Montvale, N.J.], D'Agostino and Gristede's, in New Jersey they are only serviced by Kings," he said.

Gristede's has $25 million to finance its New Jersey venture, according to Catsimatidis, who estimated it will cost the company $2.5 million to open each store. He declined to say whether the company plans to build new stores or acquire and remodel older stores.

Catsimatidis added that sales for Gristede's have gone up 10% a year for the last five years. He said the company has opened four new stores in the last two years.