NEWPORT NEWS — A Virginia grocer “has agreed to acquire” the 56,000-square-foot Farm Fresh store at 353 Chatham Drive near the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, a spokesman for SuperValu Inc. said Monday.
Chris Lee of Virginia Beach also will acquire the 52,000-square-foot Farm Fresh supermarket location at 799 Chimney Hill Shopping Center in Virginia Beach, said Mike Wilken, spokesman for SuperValu.
Those stores will remain open. Lee and SuperValu expect the transactions to be completed by the end of June, Wilken said.
“I grew up with the (Farm Fresh) brand,” Lee said. “It’s a good local brand. Once the store can turn around and become more exciting it should be better than having a name that no one knows.”
Lee currently operates two other independent grocery stores — Grand Mart in Virginia Beach and J&J International Market in Woodbridge.
Lee said he anticipates prices at the store will drop “dramatically,” as he plans to operate under a profit margin that is much lower than the store had previously. He added the store will also have a wider variety of produce and fresh food.
As part of the transition, Lee said he plans to keep as many of the current store jobs as possible, resulting in a majority of positions being retained within the two communities. Once the transaction is complete, the store will continue to operate under the Farm Fresh name and marketing brand, Wilken said.
“Having lived here my entire life and currently operating stores in the Hampton Roads area, I’m pleased to have this great opportunity to continue the Farm Fresh brand,” Lee said. “As with our other stores, we’ll have a strong focus on the fresh departments and offer the products and solutions today’s shoppers require from their local grocer.”
A ‘very good outcome’
SuperValu, Farm Fresh’s parent company, in March announced the closing and of 21 of its 38 grocery stores in Hampton Roads and Northeast North Carolina.
Since that announcement, SuperValu “has been actively engaged in joint efforts with Chris Lee to secure the future” the two stores, “retain jobs, and ensure a successful transition to preserve and enhance these important local resources for the Virginia Beach and Newport News communities,” according to a news release from SuperValu.”
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“Finding a buyer for these stores was very important for us, and we’re thrilled that Chris Lee will take ownership of these Farm Fresh locations once the deal closes,” said Anne Dament, executive vice president, retail, marketing and private brands at SuperValu. “This is a very good outcome for the employees and we’re thankful there will be new opportunities for them going forward.”