The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., once the nation's largest grocer, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it struggles with enormous debt and increased competition from low-priced peers. The 151-year-old company operates 395 stores around the Northeast under the A&P, Waldbaum's, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh, Pathmark, and Food Basics grocery stores banners.
The filing was widely anticipated, as A&P has been bleeding red ink for some time. According to the filing submitted last night, the company listed total debts of more than $3.2 billion and assets of about $2.5 billion. A&P, like most grocers, is struggling with the weak economy, reduced consumer spending, and intense competition from non-traditional food retailers like warehouse clubs, discount chains such as Wal-Mart, and dollar stores. (Read more A&P stories.)