Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company signed by George H. Hartford - Stock CertificateInv# AG1370
Different Varieties Available. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, was an American chain of grocery stores that ceased supermarket operations in November 2015, after 156 years in business. From 1915 through 1975, A&P was the largest grocery retailer in the United States (and until 1965, the largest U.S. retailer of any kind). A&P was considered an American icon that, according to The Wall Street Journal, "was as well known as McDonald's or Google is today", and was "the Walmart before Walmart". Known for innovation, A&P and the supermarkets that followed its lead significantly improved nutritional habits by making available a vast assortment of food products at much lower costs. Until 1982, A&P also was a large food manufacturer. In his 1952 book, American Capitalism, John Kenneth Galbraith cited A&P's manufacturing strategy as a classic example of countervailing power that was a welcome alternative to state price controls.
Founded in 1859 by George Gilman as "Gilman & Company", within a few years the firm opened a small chain of retail tea and coffee stores in New York City, and operated a national mail order business. The firm grew to 70 stores by 1878, when Gilman passed management to George Huntington Hartford, who turned A&P into the country's first grocery chain. In 1900, it operated almost 200 stores. After Hartford acquired ownership, A&P grew dramatically by introducing the economy store concept in 1912, growing to 1,600 stores in 1915. After World War I, it added stores that offered meat and produce, while expanding manufacturing.
In 1930, A&P, now the world's largest retailer, reached $2.9 billion in sales with 16,000 stores. In 1936, it adopted the self-serve supermarket concept and opened 4,000 larger stores (while phasing out many of its smaller units) by 1950.
A&P's decline began in the early 1950s, when it failed to keep pace with competitors that opened larger supermarkets with more modern features demanded by customers. By the 1970s, A&P stores were outdated, and its efforts to combat high operating costs resulted in poor customer service.
In 1975, it hired outside management, closed older stores, and built modern ones. When these efforts failed to turn A&P around, the heirs of the Hartford family and the Hartford foundation, which owned a majority of the stock, sold to the Tengelmann Group of Germany.
In 1981, A&P launched its second store-closing program financed by the surplus assets of its employee pension plan, reducing the corporation to fewer than 1,000 stores. The plan also closed manufacturing operations except coffee production.
Starting in 1982, A&P acquired several chains that continued to be operated under their own names, rather than being converted to A&P. While A&P regained profitability in the 1980s, in 2002 it operated at a record loss because of new competition, especially from Walmart. A&P closed more stores, which included the sale of its large Canadian division. A&P also spun off Eight O'Clock Coffee, the last of its manufacturing units.
In 2007, A&P purchased Pathmark, one of its biggest rivals, and A&P again became the largest supermarket operator in the New York City area. At the same time, Tengelmann reduced its shares to 38.5%, while the private equity firm Yucaipa, as major shareholder of Pathmark, acquired 27.5% of A&P's shares.
Highly leveraged after the Pathmark acquisition, A&P experienced financial difficulties because of the Great Recession and filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2010, in the United States Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York. By the time of its filing, A&P had declined from the nation's largest grocery retailer to the 28th, with operations limited to the Northeast.
In 2012, A&P emerged from bankruptcy by becoming a private company, as Tengelmann ended its holding, and briefly returned to modest profitability in 2013 and 2014.
A&P had been for sale in 2013 but could not find a suitable buyer. After declaring a loss in April 2015, it filed for its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 19 of that year. All of its supermarkets were sold or closed by December 1, 2015, and the closure of the Best Cellars Wines and Spirits stores followed shortly thereafter, with those stores auctioned in August 2016. (Wikipedia)
A stock certificate is issued by businesses, usually companies. A stock is part of the permanent finance of a business. Normally, they are never repaid, and the investor can recover his/her money only by selling to another investor. Most stocks, or also called shares, earn dividends, at the business's discretion, depending on how well it has traded. A stockholder or shareholder is a part-owner of the business that issued the stock certificates.
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