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KULPSVILLE, PA-A local family has sold its 22-unit Clemens Markets Inc. to a pair of grocery industry giants. Carlisle-based Giant Food Stores LLC has agreed to acquire 14 stores and unidentified affiliates or retail customers of Keene, NH-based C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. are taking the other eight.

The Pennsylvania chain has stores in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties. The transaction, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close this fourth quarter.

Denny Hopkins, vice president of marketing for Giant Food Stores, tells GlobeSt.com the C&S portion of the acquisition is “in part” designed to mitigate potential antitrust concerns. “We have locations, very near locations to existing Clemens units,” he says, “and we thought that might be an issue with the FTC.” Giant has 28 units in Delaware County and the three-county footprint for the Clemens chain. Giant plans to re-flag 13 stores, but retain Clemens’ sole foodsource brand in Bryn Mawr.

“The foodsource format is totally unique,” Hopkins says. “It’s smaller and is geared primarily to perishables and gourmet product. It has chefs on staff, a loyal customer base and is very successful so we thought we’d keep its unique identity in that market.”

Giant Food Stores Inc. is a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Royal Ahold as is its sister company, Giant Food, based in Landover, MD. C&S is the second-largest grocery wholesaler in the country. Giant Food Stores, Pathmark, Safeway, Shaw’s, Stop and Shop, A&P Food Mart, Big Y Foods and BJ’s Warehouse are among its customers.

Both Clemens and Giant declined to disclose the value of the sale. A call to C&S was not returned by deadline.

Clemens traces its roots to the early 20th Century when John C. Clemens, a Montgomery County farmer and grandfather of the current CEO, sold produce in Philadelphia. Because it is privately held, sales data is not available. However, according to Giant, net sales for the 14 units that it’s acquiring totaled nearly $190 million in 2005.

“The decision to sell our stores was very difficult for my family and me, but we had to take action to remain competitive, preserve the jobs of our employees and continue to serve the communities in which our stores are located,” Jack Clemens, chairman and CEO, says in a statement.

A Clemens spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com that all store-level employees will remain. “Support-level employees will all be interviewed regarding potential positions with the buyers,” she says. She wouldn’t speculate if the C&S acquisitions would be re-flagged.

As for Jack Clemens’ future plans, the spokeswoman provided an additional statement from him. It says, in part, “Our Clemens [Markets] charitable foundation will receive a portion of the proceeds of this sale and will continue to be a presence in the local community.”

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