Hitchcock’s Markets plans to keep the natural food lines that are in Lucky’s Markets, while also adding some conventional brands, after Hitchcock’s takes over the Lucky’s in St. Petersburg.
Hitchcock’s also wants to hire as many of the Lucky’s employees as it can to maintain the family-oriented feel of the store, Giselle Alvarez, Hitchcock’s vice president of operations, told the St. Pete Catalyst Wednesday.
Lucky’s announced Tuesday night that Hitchcock’s has an asset purchase agreement for the store in Tyrone Square.
Hitchcock’s is one of several companies to sign deals for Lucky’s stores, after Lucky’s Markets said in late January that it would close most of its stores, including the one in St. Petersburg. Lucky’s Markets also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A decision by The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) to divest from Lucky’s led to the move.
The deal with Lucky’s represents Hitchcock’s Markets’ first presence in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
Hitchcock’s, founded in 1945, has 10 stores in central and north-central Florida, with plans to open an 11th store in Homosassa in March.
“We’re family owned and very community oriented,” said Alvarez. Her father, Carlos Alvarez, is owner and president of Hitchcock’s Markets.
That community orientation is what attracted them to St. Petersburg.
“We visited and really liked the feel of the store. We drove around the community, and we like the feel of the community, the store and the customers,” Alvarez said. “We spoke to a lot of staff when we visited and they were all friendly and family-oriented. That’s what we look for when we open a store.”
Lucky’s told state officials in January that it would lay off 50 workers at the St. Petersburg store. Hitchcock’s already has spoken to many of the Lucky’s employees and hopes to hire as many of them as it can, Alvarez said
“Lucky’s customers can walk in and have the same experience, even better,” Alvarez said. “We’ll maintain the natural food line that Lucky’s had and add some conventional food items. We know the natural food line has been important to Lucky’s customers, so we’ll keep the same concept and the same items, even the same distributors.”
The deal is subject to bankruptcy court approval. Hitchcock’s Markets hopes to open the St. Petersburg store as soon as it can after that.
“Once we have that and are good with the court, we will open as soon as we can get in there and get the products in and make it nice again,” Alvarez said.
Financial terms have not been disclosed.