Schnuck Markets, Inc
Schnucks Announces the Addition of Stores in the Metro East
Agreement with the Sher family will net two Illinois stores
ST. LOUIS – Leaders of St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets, Inc. today announced the purchase of two Illinois grocery stores and the acquisition of a lease on a third store, all formerly owned and operated by the Sher family, also of St. Louis.
According to representatives of Schnucks and The Homer Group, a management company owned by the Sher family, the O’Fallon Hart Food & Drug and the Bethalto Park N Shop soon will operate under the Schnucks banner. The Godfrey Park N Shop, however, will close. Associates at all three locations will have the opportunity to join the Schnucks organization at comparable wages and benefits.
Schnucks Chairman and CEO Scott Schnuck says all three stores will close Monday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. The O’Fallon and Bethalto stores will reopen as Schnucks stores at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23. They will then observe their normal hours of operation. While closed, store inventory will be taken at the two operating stores and the checkouts converted to the Schnucks system.
Schnuck said, “The addition of the O’Fallon and Bethalto stores will significantly expand our ability to provide goods and services to customers on the Illinois side of the river. Although we have acquired the lease on the Godfrey location, we will not reopen that store. Those associates will be offered positions at other Schnucks locations including the newly remodeled Godfrey Schnucks store just two miles away.”
Homer Group President Merwyn Sher agreed and added that the close of the Godfrey store was inevitable. “That store has been struggling for some time now. The Wal-Mart supercenter opening in 2009 would have been the final straw,” Sher said. “I’ve been in the business for 49 years, and in that time the industry has changed dramatically. Today, we are competing with supercenters as well as specialty, dollar and convenience stores – most of which are non-union putting us at a further disadvantage when it comes to serving our customers.”
According to Sher, the agreement came together following the announcement of the Sept. 19 closing of their East St. Louis location. “Faced with the close of a second store (Godfrey), we were seriously concerned about our ability to find jobs for all employees and operate successfully with only two remaining stores,” Sher said.
Homer Group Vice President Howard Sher added, “We admire how Schnucks operates their stores and how they treat their associates so we were pleased when they agreed to offer jobs to our displaced East St. Louis workers. Once dialogue began, we came to value Schnucks as partners. I recognized this as an opportunity for our family and employees and the best move for all concerned.”
Schnucks Executive Committee Chairman Craig Schnuck helped to broker the agreement. “Expansion is key to our company’s continued growth and success and in our ability to effectively compete for customers down the road,” said Schnuck. “We had previously studied the Metro East and were aware of the good fit the O'Fallon and Bethalto stores would be to our network and how they would strengthen our service to area customers.”
As part of the transition, both companies will have discussions with leaders of their respective unions. They do not anticipate any significant issues. Homer Group retail employees are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Locals 881 and 534 and Schnucks associates are under Locals 881, 534 and 88.
Schnucks leaders say they are working to ensure a smooth transition for all customers. During the two days the stores are closed for inventory, the O’Fallon pharmacy will not be able to accept walk-in customers. However, physicians may continue to call prescriptions in to Hart Pharmacy, and customers may order refills by calling the pharmacy at 618-632-5525. Normal hours of operation will resume on Thursday, Oct. 23.
The Sher family has been in the grocery business for four generations. Merwyn Sher’s grandfather, Herman Cohen, opened the original store in Granite City in 1931. The current business is owned and operated by Merwyn Sher and his son, Howard, as part of The Homer Group Management Company. In addition to the stores, the Sher family owns a warehouse in Alorton, Ill. This facility is not part of the sale. The Sher family plans to donate the warehouse to charitable use.
Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets, Inc. operates 103 stores (including five Logli stores) and 100 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi. (This acquisition brings the Schnucks metro east store total to 14 and company total to 105.) # # #