Lidl will take over 6 Shoppers Food locations

Lanham, Maryland-based Shoppers Food has been largely in limbo since food wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc. bought the chain in 2018. (Steve Ruark/AP Images for Smithfield)

Shoppers Food parent company United Natural Foods Inc. will close four stores across Virginia and Maryland, and 13 others have been sold to other grocery store chains, including almost half to German discount grocer Lidl.

“We plan to acquire six properties in Maryland and Virginia from UNFI. In Maryland, this includes sites in Annapolis, Brooklyn Park, Oxon Hill, Takoma Park and Wheaton. In Virginia, it includes a Shoppers store in Burke,” Lidl spokesman William Harwood confirmed to WTOP.

“We will be making significant investments in the redevelopment of the sites, and will have more to share in terms of the grand opening timeline at the end of next year,” Harwood said.

The purchase agreements with UNFI accelerates the expansion plans for Lidl, which has said it plans to open a total of 25 new stores by next spring. It currently has about a dozen stores in Maryland and Virginia.

Lidl’s North American headquarters is in Crystal City, Virginia. The company now has 65 stores across the East Coast and will have more than 100 by the end of next year.

The fate of Lanham, Maryland-based Shoppers has been largely in limbo since food wholesaler UNFI bought the chain in 2018, and then promptly said it intended to exit the retail grocery business.

The four Shoppers Food stores that will close for good are in Alexandria and Manassas in Virginia, and in Baltimore and Severn in Maryland. Those stores will close by the end of January.

The buyer for the Shoppers store in Waldorf, Maryland, is McKay’s. And the buyer for Shoppers stores in Capitol Heights and Landover, Maryland, is Compare Foods.

The remaining 26 Shoppers Food locations will continue to operate under the Shoppers brand for now, though UNFI said it intends to divest them.

“Today’s announcement reflects progress on our commitment to reduce UNFI’s retail footprint and marks another step toward transforming UNFI into North America’s premier food wholesaler,” said UNFI Chief Executive Steven Spinner.

Earlier this year, UNFI closed pharmacies located inside 30 Shoppers stores, and sold the prescriptions and pharmacy inventories to CVS and Walgreens.

And a few Shoppers stores have been taken over by Giant Food recently.

Jonathan Williams, communications director for UFCW 400, the union representing many Shoppers workers, said in a statement:

“We were shocked because this announcement has come after more than a year of silence from the company on its plans. Since UNFI acquired Shoppers, we have requested, insisted and demanded to be given information on the fate of these stores. In response, we have been met with cold indifference. UNFI has refused to provide us with any assurances that the hardworking men and women who have dedicated their careers to this company won’t be left out in the cold.”

A posting on the union’s website lists buyers for other Shoppers stores outside of the immediate D.C. area.

In a regulatory filing, UNFI said it will incur $32 million to $42 million in costs and charges related to these most recent sales and closings, including $13 million to $16 million in estimated severance and employee-related costs.

Below is a list of current Shoppers Food stores that have been sold or will close.

A list of current Shoppers Food stores that have been sold or will close. (Courtesy Shoppers Food)
Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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