Natural Foods Merchandiser

Seattle's Larry's Markets sold

Larry's Markets, the six-store, Seattle-area upscale grocery chain, found a buyer for five of its six struggling stores in August after filing for bankruptcy protection in May. The buyers, Michael Teel and Michael Ashker, principals with LM Acquisition Partners LLC, both have executive experience in the grocery business, Ashker's recent experience being in the natural and organic area. "We plan to expand the natural and organic sections, and focus on fresh prepared foods," Teel said.

At press time, the $5.5 million sale was expected to take place at the end of August after a short period of open bids in bankruptcy court. During this time other parties may submit offers, but in bankruptcy court the initial buyer is usually successful, said David Marriott, spokesman for Larry's Markets.

As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, all Larry's employees will be required to reapply for their jobs. Though Ashker said they plan on investing capital to make changes to the stores, he said they hope to keep the same strong employee base.

"Their real challenge has been undercapitalization, which in turn caused them to fall behind the curve," Ashker said. "We plan to reinvent, revitalize and eventually regain the position of prominence that Larry's Markets once held in the local community. Larry's is all about Seattle, and through investment and lots of hard work, we are determined to make Larry's the local favorite again."

Larry's Markets began in 1964 and now has stores in Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, Tukwila and two in Seattle. Larry's is still negotiating with a possible buyer for the Tukwila location.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 9/p. 12

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