The bankrupt supermarket company that owns Pathmark and Super Fresh told employees this morning that it plans to close 10 stores in South Jersey, Southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware over the next two months.

On the chopping block are Pathmarks in Deptford; Saucon Valley, near Lehigh University; and Glasgow, Del., and seven Super Fresh supermarkets in Mount Holly; Hammonton; Cape May Court House; Hamilton Township; Hightstown; Yardley and Lionville, Chester County, union officials said.

More than 585 union jobs are affected by the planned shutdowns, officials said.

Union and company officials met with workers at those stores this morning to break the news, said representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers Union, whose various locals represent most of the affected employees.

The move is part of an ongoing bankruptcy restructuring effort by parent owner Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc, based in Montvale, N.J., which filed for Chapter 11 protection in December.

A call to A&P corporate headquarters seeking comment about the planned closures was not immediately returned.

Wendell Young IV, president of UFCW Local 1776, said about 80 of his clerks would be affected by the store closings at Saucon and Lionville

And 265 part-time and full-time clerks are affected at five sites in South Jersey and Bucks County, said UFCW Local 1360 president Sam Ferraino, whose members are in South Jersey and Bucks County.

Across all 10 stores, another 240 meat cutters and deli workers are also in the line of fire, said Brian String, president of UFCW Local 152, known as the meat cutters' union.

"I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the move, but they're eliminating stores that they feel that they won't be able to turn around," Young said. "They're trying to restructure the company so that they emerge from bankruptcy - that's what they told us, that this is part of that restructuring effort."

String was less sanguine in his assessment of A&P's intentions. He said a meeting Friday between organized labor officials and representatives of the bankrupt corporation was discouraging.

"I am not convinced they have a turnaround strategy in place," String said. "Furthermore, I do believe there will be more store closings coming, as well."

He said he based that prediction on insinuations by the company.

 
Contact staff writer Maria Panaritis at 215-854-2431 or mpanaritis@phillynews.com.