SAN FRANCISCO — Five DeLano IGA Markets in the Bay Area are expected to close before the end of the year and revert back to Kroger Co., which owns the properties, Harley DeLano, co-owner of DeLano Retail Partners here, told SN last week.
DeLano acquired the Northern California stores — which formerly operated under the banners of Cala Foods and Bell Markets — from Ralphs Grocery Co., a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger, in late 2006. The stores became part of IGA in 2007.
DeLano said the company was in arrears to its creditors and had received a three-day notice to quit the properties on Nov. 22, “and we're dealing with the attorneys now to make arrangements to pay the employees, which is our main objective. But the people who asked us to leave had a perfect right to do so,” he noted.
The stores — including one in Mill Valley, one in Tiburon and three here — range in size from 8,900 to 23,000 square feet. Asked why the operation failed, DeLano said, “It was pressures from the economy, competition from non-union operators and an inability to borrow money to invest and expand.”
DeLano operates two other Northern California stores in a separate partnership — Fairfax IGA Market in Fairfax and Westlake IGA in Davis. He said he is uncertain what will happen to those locations.
“This is all a moving target,” he said. “We still have several balls in the air, and we haven't gotten around to discussing those stores yet. But they are owned by different partnerships than the other five.
“This is an extremely difficult time. I've been in this industry for years, but this is the first time I have no knowledge of what's going to happen tomorrow.”
DeLano, who ran a group of independent markets in Los Angeles for most of his career, joined Ralphs in 1990 as president of the Cala-Bell stores. His son, Dennis, who is co-owner of the five IGA stores, spent 15 years working for Ralphs in Northern California.
Harley DeLano retired from Ralphs in 1999 but formed the partnership with his son to buy the stores in 2006.