The cooperative known as Associated Grocers of New England has announced it is will purchase five independent Vermont grocery stores owned by Mike Comeau—Village Market of Waterbury, Johnson’s Sterling Market, Shelburne Market, Richmond Market & Beverage, and Jericho Market. The purchase price was not made public, however local news source the Waterbury Record reported that the deal is expected to close on January 18.
“Locally owned, independent grocery stores are the backbone of our company. It is rare to have the opportunity to acquire a retail group and have the ability to provide continuity to extremely well-run stores,” Associated Grocers President and CEO Mike Violette told the source. “We are thrilled to continue with the successful formula that has fueled the success of Mike Comeau’s five stores here in Vermont”
Comeau's family of stores have been longtime members of Associated Grocers, and will continue to be members following the acquisition. Waterbury Record says the co-op plans to keep the stores' current employees and upper management teamin place.
“My employees were a big reason for the sale,” Comeau shared with the Record. “I’ve reached a pivot point where I have a good group, but they are looking for more opportunities. They will have a lot more access to opportunities, like better health insurance, than I can currently offer, better 401K plans and benefits, and chances to move up the ladder.”
Comeau will remain in his seat on Associated Grocers' Board of Directors until his term ends in June, but says he will no longer be involved in their operation following the sale.