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Jan 15, 2019 3:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Stop And Shop Plans To Absorb King Kullen Employees

King Kullen on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. VALERIE GORDON
Jan 16, 2019 11:11 AM

Stop & Shop’s plans for the East End’s King Kullen stores, which the company acquired earlier this month, are still unclear.

According to Jennifer Brogan, Stop & Shop’s director of communications, the grocery store chain has not made any decisions regarding the conversion of any of the 37 stores—including five Wild By Nature stores, one of which is in Hampton Bays—throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“We’re still evaluating those stores and making those decisions,” she said on Monday. She could not offer a timeline and declined to outline the store’s plans for the takeover.

However, according to a press release on January 4, Stop & Shop is expected to absorb the grocery stores within the first quarter of 2019.

In the meantime, Ms. Brogan did say Stop & Shop plans to keep as many employees as possible during the transition.

One King Kullen employee, John Ferro, said he heard that Stop & Shop will absorb most of the Long Island-based grocery stores’ employees. Mr. Ferro, who has worked as a cart attendant at the Bridgehampton location for roughly eight months, added that he is “likely guaranteed” a position with Stop & Shop.

Both Bridgehampton King Kullen store manager Ed Williamson and his counterpart in Hampton Bays, Daniel Leone, declined to comment on the purchase on Tuesday.

Ms. Brogan also declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, as well as what led to Stop & Shop’s interest in the Long Island-based supermarket chain.

In a prepared statement, Brian Cullen, co-president of King Kullen Grocery Store Company, referred to the family-owned business as “part of the fabric of this island” for 88 years. He wrote, “Recently, we determined that the best option for our family and our associates was to merge King Kullen into Stop & Shop.”

King Kullen’s spokesman Lloyd Singer, senior vice president of accounts with Epoch 5 Public Relations in Huntington, could not offer any insight into the merger and referred all questions to Ms. Brogan.

Bridgehampton King Kullen shoppers expressed concern regarding the merger on Tuesday. One hamlet resident, Alba Aguero, said she has shopped primarily at the Montauk Highway store for roughly 15 years. “We find everything here,” she said. “We hope they keep the sign.”

Jamie Laggis is another regular at the family-owned supermarket in Bridgehampton. In fact, she drives from her home in Southampton, where there is already a Stop & Shop, specifically to shop at King Kullen.

“I like King Kullen—it’s part of the community,” she said, adding that the store’s meat market and vegetable selection are superior to those at Stop & Shop. “I find everything I want here,” she said.

Ms. Laggis added that Stop & Shop on Main Street in Southampton Village is always crowded, noting that she prefers King Kullen because “it’s open and not as condensed.”

Louise Poleshuk said she often shops at King Kullen, as it’s the closest large supermarket to her Shelter Island home. Her nearest alternative is the Shelter Island Supermarket on North Ferry Road. “If I do come off the island, I shop at King Kullen,” she said. “I hope they keep up the good quality.”

The acquisition is concerning for residents living in areas where both supermarket chains already exist.

In fact, Hampton Bays currently has a Stop & Shop, King Kullen, and Wild By Nature all within a two-mile radius. Ms. Brogan could not offer any information in regard to the three stores on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays.

“I imagine they’ll close at least one,” Ms. Poleshuk said. “That could be a little more tricky.”

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By knitter (1893), Southampton on Jan 16, 19 12:36 PM
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