Historic grocery A&P filed for bankruptcy

The soap aisle at Whole Foods grocery

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: It's officially called the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, and its been around for 151 years. But the grocery store chain more commonly known as A&P is fighting to stay alive. The New Jersey-based company runs 395 grocery stores around the Northeast. But now, A&P has filed for bankruptcy.

Marketplace's Janet Babin joins me now live to talk about it. Good morning, Janet.

JANET BABIN: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: They've been in business for 151 years and now bankruptcy. What happened?

BABIN: Like many companies, A & P struggled during the downturn. Margins are tight, and at least in everything but luxury sales, there's been reduced spending by consumers and we've got intense competition on price. The company blamed the warehouse stores, and discount chains like Walmart and dollar stores with compounding its problems and the expense of lease obligation at locations that are closed but the company still have to pay for. A&P got itself into debt and is finding it hard to climb out of it.

HOBSON: So, now -- bankruptcy. What does that mean? What happens now?

BABIN: Bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean the end for a company. Often it's a chance to get the house in order, and get out from under about $1 billion in debt. The New York Post reports that LA billionaire Ron Burkle -- who already owns a lot of stock in A&P, and made the majority money in the grocery business -- might try to wrest control of A&P, right now, from a German based firm that's had control of the stores since the late 1970s.

HOBSON: Alright well we'll be watching to see what happens. Marketplace's Janet Babin here in New York, thanks.

BABIN: Thank you.

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