The Great Atlantic and Pacific tea company better known as A&P has been around for more than century and a half: one hundred and fifty three years to be precise. This grocery and liquor store based in the U.S. has risen and fallen many times over its lifespan. The ‘A&P’ of course is for the ‘Atlantic and Pacific’ in the company’s name. And yes they did deal only in coffee and tea!
Founded in 1859 by George Huntington Hartford and George Gilman, A&P dealt in tea and coffee and it’s not until 1880 that it introduced sugar in its shelves due to an act by Congress to raise tariffs on tea and coffee, which saw profits at the stores significantly drop.
A& P introduced economy stores in 1912 that sold groceries at low prices and on a cash- and carry basis. The company aimed at maximizing on profits from large volumes of sales and sold at retail prices a small margin above the cost hence made very little profit per item. The company went about acquiring several stores in the 1920’s and became very successful in Canada and the U.S.
The company had an impressive 16,000 stores in the 1930’s, but as of 2011 it had 338 stores operating under its various banners. It currently trades under these brands: A&P Food market, A&P Super Foodmart, Superfresh, Waldbaums, Food Basics USA, Best Cellars, The Food Emporium, Pathmark and A&P Warehouse Liquors
The company has had its trying times and closed many stores, which eventually culminated in it filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. Under a debt and equity financing agreement with private investors the same year, the company managed to get out of bankruptcy in 2012, but as a privately owned company. However, the company has continued with its store closing spree and it still remains to be seen in the next few years if it will be the proverbial “rise from the ashes phoenix.”