Eastside Marketplace sold to Stop & Shop’s owner

The inside of Eastside Marketplace grocery store on the East Side of Providence. (photo: Eastside Marketplace)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Independent Providence grocery store Eastside Marketplace has been sold to the Dutch parent company of Stop & Shop, WPRI.com has confirmed.

Scott Laurans, the longtime owner of Eastside Marketplace, told WPRI.com on Tuesday that Ahold USA, the American division of Royal Ahold NV, has bought the local grocery store’s holding company, ESM Inc. Eastside Marketplace will retain its name and be operated as a separate division of Ahold USA, he said.

“It’s not going to be a Stop & Shop,” Laurans said. “It’s going to remain Eastside Marketplace as it is currently in all respects, including personnel, including myself – I’m going to remain an adviser to the company. … It’s a very, very different approach than what most people would expect.”

The acquisition was announced Tuesday and is expected to close within 30 days, Laurans said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This is very exciting. There’s a lot to this story,” Laurans said. “It’s great for our employees, great for our customers and the community at large to have one of the great retailers in the world make that long-term commitment to Rhode Island and Providence in particular.”

Ahold USA operates four divisions: Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop New York Metro, Giant Carlisle and Giant Landover. The company has U.S. headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and said it employed 117,000 people nationwide as of last year.

Laurans, who is also chairman of the board at the Lifespan hospital group and an investment consultant at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., has owned Eastside Marketplace since 1981. It was previously an IGA and a First National. Laurans’ family formerly owned and operated Roger Williams Foods Inc., a major Cumberland-based food distributor, which was bought in 1988 by what is now Supervalu Inc.

Laurans, who is 67, acknowledged: “I’ve had some concern since I’m not as young as I used to be about what would happen in the future.” He said he knew Ahold USA’s reputation from his own years in the food business and trusted the company’s management team to manage Eastside Marketplace well.

Eastside Marketplace is located roughly 2.5 miles from a Stop & Shop store on West River Street in Providence.

Laurans joked that running Eastside Marketplace has been a challenge for him because he spent most of his career as a wholesaler, not a retailer. “But I’m a closet retailer at heart,” he said. “I love retail and I love what we’ve been able to do for our associates and for our community.”

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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