Illinois-based Central Grocers Inc. says it is looking to close an additional three Strack & Van Til stores. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the buyer looking to purchase the Highland-based grocery chain’s remaining stores only wants to buy 19 locations, instead of the previously-announced 22.
The company did not state which additional stores are in danger of closing. In March, Strack & Van Til announced it was closing five stores, including its Merrillville location, leaving 81 employees out of work.
In a bankruptcy filing obtained by The Times, Central Grocers says it currently owes $225 million in debt. Stephen Karotkin, an attorney for Central Grocers, described the chain’s financial troubles to a bankruptcy court judge in Delaware.
"Challenges, Your Honor, include the highly competitive nature of the food industry and the shifting nature of consumer preferences and the growing presence of online retailers; additionally, the explosive growth in consumer demand for gourmet shopping experiences with offerings of organic and natural foods and the debtors’ inability to devote substantial resources to that market contributed to the problems," said Karotkin. "In addition, the phenomenon of increasingly low profit margins in the grocery industry and historically low prices in more recent years also contributed to why we are here today. The debtors also suffered from financial constraints, limiting their ability to make capital improvements and technological advances to customize and improve the customer experience."
You can read more in The Times of Northwest Indiana.