Chesterton Tribune



Strack, Van Til families outbid Jewel for 20 Strack grocery stores

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The Strack and the Van Til families have made a successful bid to purchase 20 Strack & Van Til groceries and other assets from the stores’ bankrupt majority owner, Central Grocers Inc.

Among the 20 stores, confirmed today by President and CEO Jeff Strack: the Chesterton location at 1600 Pioneer Trail.

Strack, who already owns 10 percent of the Strack & Van Til chain, declined to say how much the families--joined by a “few others”--bid but it would have to be in excess of the $100 million which Jewel-Osco, Central Grocers’ stalking-horse, agreed to pay for 19 Strack & Van Til stores: $70 million for the stores themselves and $30 million for inventory.

“Our company is called the Indiana Grocery Group,” Strack said in an e-mail to the Chesterton Tribune today. “The Strack and the Van Til families are excited for the opportunity to continue to serve the communities of Northwest Indiana as we have for over 80 years.”

“While this will be a new company, we will continue to have the same connection to Northwest Indiana as Ernie Strack and Nick Van Til did when they started their partnership years ago,” Strack added. “Our associates, vendor partners, and most importantly our customers are why we continue to work so hard. They are the reasons we are here and we appreciate them and will work hard for them. When it comes to it--We are Indiana Made.”

“Chesterton is one of the stores,” Strack told the Tribune this morning just before deadline. “And we are glad to be able to continue serving the community as we have for the last five years.”

Central Grocers, a co-op headquartered in Joliet, Ill., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 4, attributing its dire financial straits to a combination of factors, including online competition, consumers’ changing tastes, and plummeting food prices which have prompted grocery retailers to engage in “aggressive price wars.”

On May 13, Central Grocers announced that Jewel-Osco had entered into a stalking-horse agreement to acquire 19 Strack & Van Til stores for a total price of $100 million. Under the terms of that agreement, in the event of Central Grocers’ receiving a higher bid than $100 million, it would have to pay Jewel-Osco a “break-up fee” equal to 3 percent of the stalking-horse purchase price and reimburse Jewel-Osco up to $500,000 for “reasonable and documentable costs and expenses” incurred in connection with the agreement.

At the time Jewel-Osco said that it had no plans to close any of the 19 Strack & Van Til stores, including the Chesterton location, located roughly one and half miles from Jewel-Osco’s store at 747 Indian Boundary Road.

In December 2012, Strack & Van Til purchased eight groceries owned by WiseWay Supermarkets, including WiseWay’s Chesterton location. Strack & Van Til immediately undertook a major remodeling of the former WiseWay, which opened in February 2005. That 60,000-square foot grocery nearly tripled the space of the old WiseWay--formerly Costas Foods--located at Broadway and Eighth Street in Chesterton.

The Strack & Van Til chain had its origin in 1959, when independent grocers Ernie Strack and Nick Van Til merged their businesses, bought a 10-acre parcel in Highland, and built the first Strack & Van Til grocery. Over the years the company opened new stores under the Strack & Van Til, Town & Country, and Ultra Foods banners, at one point operating 38 different ones.


Posted 7/12/2017





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