Thursday, April 16, 2009
UPDATE Westport’s gourmet specialty food retailer Balducci’s has been sold to a New York investor group led by the chairman of Kings Super Markets, it was announced today.
Balducci’s on Westport’s Post Road East is under new management. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The group led by New York investor Jim Demme acquired the Westport store as well as Balducci’s stores located in Greenwich, Alexandria, Va., Bethesda, Md., McLean, Va., and Scarsdale, N.Y., the announcement said.
Balducci’s stores in Ridgefield, Washington, D.C., and New York City will be closed. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“Mr. Demme has a breadth of experience in food retail at the CEO and chairman level and serves as a senior advisor to New York-based investment firm Angelo, Gordon & Co.,” the announcement said.
Demme partnered with the Angelo, Gordon private equity group in 2006 to acquire Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings Super Markets from Marks & Spencer.
Prior to joining the AG team, Demme served as chairman of the board of the Penn Traffic Company, chairman and CEO of Bruno’s Supermarkets, and chairman and CEO of Homeland Stores. He has been in the supermarket and grocery distribution industry since 1955.
The announcement said Balducci’s licensing, catering and gift basket operations were also included in the deal.
Balducci’s has grappled with instability in its top ranks over the past decade, a time of increased competition from high-end food retailers.
“They have a model which is pricey, and right now the economy is not tailored toward pricey,” Jeffrey Metzger, publisher of trade magazine Food World, told The Washington Post.
“It’s a difficult place to shop in terms of your weekly needs.”
Westport’s Balducci’s was once known as Hay Day Country Market and was owned by Sutton Place Gourmet.
In 1999, Sutton Placed purchased Balducci’s which then consisted of a 53-year-old grocery store in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan and a cafe and a mail-order business owned by Andy and Nina Balducci.
At the time, Sutton Place owned eight stores with that name, plus four Hay Day Country Farm Market stores in Connecticut, including Westport, and Westchester County. It subsequently renamed its stores Balducci’s.
In November 2003, the company was purchased by an investment group led by Bear Stearns Merchant Banking and a management team led by Mark Ordan, founder of Fresh Fields food stores.
At the time, Bear Stearns Merchant Banking said it had committed $50 million to the acquisition and the future growth of the store base and intended “to return the company to its former position of prominence.”
Comments: Comment Policy
Kings Super Markets in New Jersey are complete grocery stores, with prices a little higher than what we had at Shaw’s. Maybe the new owners will make this into a Kings, although geogrpahically, we need a super market more toward the western edge of town.
I agree. People are just getting tired of driving long distances to get to Stop & Shop. And Stop & Shop ain’t that great when you do get there.
A Balducci’s customer, awaiting news of future plans for the store from the new owners.
I understand that your frustrated at not having a grocery closer to you but I’m going to defend Stop & Shop. I’m a regular at Stop & Shop (in Westport) and like it, polite staff, plenty of parking, very helpful butchers, clean and now self scan.
For me, Stop & Shop is as convenient as it can be. In fact, I can walk to the store. But I feel that competition is healthy and, unfortunately, we lack it for full-service supermarkets.
I agree with Angie. I come from Trumbull on weekends to Westport’s Stop & Shop because of the service I receive from Greg and the others in the Butcher Shop. They haven’t let me down in over 5 years! Others should quit complaining about driving ‘cross town.
Consumer Reports just issued a report on super markets. Stop & Shop was ranked 48 out of 61 in the survey. At least they beat out Shaws. Number 1 is Wegmans, a Canadian chain, that has stores in upstate New York.
The comments are correct about customer service. The employees are nice and I was very pleased to see that they had hired a number of employees from Shaws.
S&S;looks good in comparison to other markets in Connecticut, but Fairfield County just doesn’t have the quality of supermarkets that exist in the rest of the USA.
Wegmans is great! Sort of Stew Leonards bolted onto Stop&Shop;. Meat, produce, bakery etc from Stew’s, with all the extended household items you find at S&S;.
Given the population density, you’d think another full-service grocery store would do well somewhere between the S&Ss;at exit 19 and 14. But 3 or more have closed in the past 10 years. I guess people do want quality first, price and convenience second.
Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport