Ahold Delhaize’s Martin’s Food Markets will close its remaining nine stores in Richmond and Williamsburg, VA, this summer, according to Supermarket News. The company has been trying to sell those locations for nearly a year.
About half the chain was sold last year to Publix Super Markets when Ahold was required to unload stores to meet federal antitrust concerns from its merger with Delhaize.
Martin’s entered Richmond as part of its purchase of the Ukrop’s chain there. In recent years, it has seen shoppers leave amid heavy investment from competitors, including Kroger and Wegmans.
Martin's, which has been struggling for some time and unsuccessfully trying to find a buyer — despite what likely was an exhaustive search — symbolizes the troubles some grocery stores are having.
Wegmans has been expanding aggressively on the East Coast, leaving cash-strapped or less competitive chains struggling for survival in the ultra-competitive grocery space. It also doesn't help that countless polls routinely rank Wegmans and Publix as the most popular grocery stores in the country. Wegmans is often given positive ratings for reasonable prices, wide selection, large stores and superior customer service.
When Martin’s entered Richmond as part of its acquisition of the Ukrop’s chain in 2009 it struggled against heavy investment from Kroger and Wegmans. Further competition is looming as Lidl opens 20 new stores this summer, with a total of 100 stores operating up and down the East Coast by the end of 2018. According to Lidl, two of the stores opening this summer will be in Richmond.
As grocery stores face increased competition from other brick-and-mortar locations like Wal-Mart, Amazon and meal-kit delivery services such as Blue Apron, further closures and even bankruptcies are inevitable. In the grocery space now, it's survival of the fittest.