Birth in the 19th Century
Partners George F. Gilman and George Huntington Hartford open a store-warehouse operation in downtown Manhattan (left).
Company adds coffee to its offerings. George Huntington Hartford later gives the brand a name, Eight O'Clock Coffee.
Company, now with 11 stores, renames itself the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., in honor of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Great American Tea Co. name is retained for mail order and wagon routes.
The Great Chicago Fire provides opportunity for A&P to expand to the Midwest.
Gilman retires, leaving company in control of George Huntington Hartford.
George Ludlum Hartford, son of George Huntington Hartford, joins company as a cashier at age 15.
At the company's Vescey Street store in New York, a chemist creates baking powder on-site, marking A&P's entry into the manufacturing business.
John Augustine Hartford, another son of George Huntington Hartford, joins the company at age 16 as a clerk.
Decades of Dominance
Annual sales of $5.6 million; nearly 200 stores. Sales growth sparked in part by premium items — such as china and glassware — available through coupons accrued by shopping.
Corporate headquarters moves from lower Manhattan to Jersey City, N.J.; annual sales of $15 million in more than 70 stores.
John Hartford opens the first A&P Economy Store in Jersey City, N.J. Offering a plain selection of groceries at sharp prices, but no premium items or extras like delivery and credit, the store is a huge success and triggers a massive rollout.
Founder George Huntington Hartford dies; his will stipulates that sons George L. Hartford (as board chairman, right) and John Hartford (as president, left) were to have administrative control of A&P until their deaths.
A&P's coffee division, the American Coffee Corp., becomes a wholly owned subsidiary. A&P becomes the world's largest coffee retailer by 1929, with 90% of its sales coming from its own products.
The “A&P Radio Hour,” featuring Harry Horlick and the A&P Gypsies, begins weekly broadcasts from NBC Studios in New York.
A&P establishes the Atlantic Commission Co. to pioneer fresh fruit and vegetable transportation.
National meat department established, ushering in an era where meat would become a standard offering at U.S. grocery stores.
A&P moves headquarters back to New York, to the Graybar Building in Midtown Manhattan; establishes first presence in Canada with a store in Montreal.
A&P reaches $1 billion in sales, becoming only the second company to do so.
Expansion into California and Washington states; chain reaches peak of 15,737 stores in the U.S.
A&P launches Woman's Day magazine. Monthly circulation grows to 3 million copies by 1944. Noting the success of the self-service supermarket as created by King Kullen earlier in the decade, A&P opens its first supermarket in Braddock, Pa.
A&P operates 1,110 supermarkets and 2,000 smaller grocery stores. National Bakery Division established; its 35 bakeries across the U.S. would contribute around 50% of A&P's profit in coming years.
Ralph W. Burger, former assistant to brothers John and George Hartford, named president.
John Hartford dies.
George Hartford dies.
Burger named chairman of the board; sales surpass $3 billion for the first time, with profits of $53.9 million. Company goes public for the first time, though members of the Hartford family and the Hartford Foundation maintain a controlling interest.
A&P reintroduces premium offerings with Plaid Stamps.
After years of struggle, A&P exits California.
Burger retires. John Ehrgott, president, is promoted to chairman and chief executive officer.
Massive Ann Page manufacturing plant opens in Horseheads, N.Y. The $25 million, 1.5 million-square-foot center was at the time the world's largest combined food processing and manufacturing plant.
Jay retires; Melvin Allredge named CEO.
Decades of Decline
With sales slowing, A&P begins converting “trouble” stores to a discount format known as A-Mart.
William J. Kane replaces Allredge as CEO.
Discounting trend continues as A&P begins conversion of nearly all of its stores to the WEO format. The discounting and associated marketing spark an industrywide price war, but analysts say the effort is not adequately supported with cost controls, and the resulting decline in profitability nearly sinks the company.
Headquarters moved from Manhattan to Montvale, N.J.
A&P names Albertsons executive Jonathan Scott as its new CEO. Scott is the first leader to come from outside the company in its 116-year history. Review leads to the closure of more than 1,200 unprofitable stores.
Tengelmann Group acquires a majority of A&P stock. Plus, an American adaptation of a European limited assortment discounter, Plus, begins rollout. The experiment is eventually abandoned.
A new board of directors appoints James Wood as CEO; massive reorganization, consisting of several market exits and thousands of store closures, follow.
Acquires 17 Stop & Shop stores in New Jersey. Later, rebanners several under a new Sav-A-Center discount brand.
Slimmed-down company, now fewer than 1,000 stores, returns to profitability.
Creates stark, German-inspired “Futurestore” with black and white decor meant to show off colorful products inside.
Launches SuperFresh banner in Philadelphia.
Acquires Kohl's Food Stores, Milwaukee, in the first chain-store acquisition in company history.
Acquires 92 Dominion stores in Ontario.
Purchases Garden City, N.Y.-based Waldbaum Inc., operator of Waldbaums stores on Long Island, and Shopwell Inc., operator of Manhattan-based upscale retailer The Food Emporium.
A&P purchases the 79-store Farmer Jack chain in Detroit from Bowman's Inc. for $76 million.
A&P acquires 42 Big Star stores in the Atlanta area.
Launches Food Basics discount banner in Canada. Exported to the U.S. in 2001 and begins a slow rollout.
Christian Haub, scion of Tengelmann's controlling family, named co-CEO with Wood. Haub takes over as CEO when Wood retires a year later.
Haub introduces “Great Renewal” initiative to close or sell 170 stores and to overhaul outdated technology systems.
Exits Atlanta; Richmond, Va.; and Tidewater, Va., markets.
Completes landmark BridgeMarket site for The Food Emporium.
Company sells Eight O'Clock Coffee to a private equity concern for around $150 million. It was the company's last manufacturing concern.
Madison, Wis.-area Kohl's stores sold to Roundy's; 23 remaining Kohl's stores closed.
A&P consolidates field offices at Montvale.
Sells its profitable Canadian operating companies to Metro Inc. in a “transformative” $1.475 billion deal. Eric Claus, former CEO of A&P Canada, named CEO of U.S. operations as Haub takes role as executive chairman.
After months of speculation, A&P purchases its longtime rival, Pathmark. The $1.3 billion deal provides A&P with leading market share in the Northeast, while Pathmark's owner, private-equity firm Yucaipa, takes stake in combined entities.
Farmer Jack stores in Michigan sold piecemeal or closed; New Orleans stores sold to Rouses.
Pathmark is repositioned as the “price-impact” banner in a multi-format strategy that includes high-end gourmet (Food Emporium), fresh (A&P, Waldbaums, SuperFresh) and discount (Food Basics) stores. Several SuperFresh stores in Philadelphia market are converted to Pathmark banner and format.
As A&P struggles with the Pathmark integration, Claus is fired and Haub (left) resumes control while seeking a successor.
A&P names industry veteran Ron Marshall as CEO in February, but he is abruptly fired in July and replaced by Sam Martin, an executive with longtime ties to Yucaipa. In December, A&P files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, seeking to exit dark store leases, close dozens of stores, and renegotiate burdensome labor and supply contracts.
A&P emerges after 15 months in Chapter 11, with 75 fewer stores, newly renegotiated supply and distribution contracts, union workers agreeing to concessions valued at $600 million and a new capital infusion from Yucaipa. Bankruptcy wipes out Tengelmann interests. Martin embarks on a “neighborhood” store merchandising strategy and stars in a television campaign inviting customers back to stores.
Paul Hertz replaces Martin as CEO.
A&P files Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing high labor costs, falling sales and months of heavy losses. Company reveals minority investor Mt. Kellet Capital Management had become majority owner.
Immediately closes 25 of its remaining 300 stores and pursues court-led auction for remaining stores and assets. More than 26,000 workers laid off.