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CARTERET, NJ-Many national or multi-regional chains could potentially be interested in acquiring the 142-unit Pathmark Stores supermarket chain, according to a report issued by Jonathan H. Ziegler, an analyst at research firm Dutton Associates. Locally based Pathmark, operator of stores in the Northeast, said earlier this month it would explore a sale of the chain.

One scenario could include a buyout by a major chain with little Northeast presence, Ziegler noted. He also acknowledged that much of Pathmark’s real estate is attractive and that “the company boasts a major market share in the wealthiest states in the country, which, among other things offer little land available for development of large box stores and have approximately 21.2 million mouths to feed.” The report did not specifically mention any buyers that might be interested in acquiring the company.

Ziegler estimates that Pathmark’s units are “among the highest volume stores in the country,” with sales of about $540,000 per week compared to an industry average of $350,000 to $400,000. Their annual sales are around $540 per sf. And because of the chain’s Northeastern presence, it faces little competition with Wal-Mart Supercenters.

But Ziegler’s report didn’t ignore some of Pathmark’s problems. The chain has faced increased competition from dollar and drug stores and Wal-Mart is trying to push into the grocer’s territory. It has also faced competition from other regional grocers and has reported “poor sales generation despite … aggressive promotional activity.”

Pathmark officials announced Dec. 2, in its Q3 report, that they were exploring a sale of the company. During the quarter, the company posted a year-over-year same-store sales drop of 0.5%, as well as a loss of $200,000.

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