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grocer a&p files for chapter 11 reorganization

grocer a&p files for chapter 11 reorganizationfrom ap: The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., once the nation's largest grocer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday after years of struggling with enormous debt and rising competition from low-priced peers.

The 151-year-old company, based in Montvale, N.J., operates 395 stores around the Northeast under the A&P, Waldbaum's, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh, Pathmark and Food Basics grocery stores banners. It said all its stores, which employ 41,000 people, will remain open. Loyalty programs and other promotions will continue.

The filing was widely anticipated. The company — best known to shoppers as A&P — has been bleeding red ink for some time. According to the filing submitted late Sunday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y., the company listed total debts of more than $3.2 billion and assets of about $2.5 billion.

A&P, like most grocers, is struggling with the weak economy, reduced spending by consumers and intense competition. The company said aggressive competition from nontraditional food retailers like warehouse clubs, discount chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and dollar stores have compounded the problem.

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