RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Harris Teeter is no longer the front runner to buy the popular grocery store. That's according to Supermarket News, a weekly grocer trade magazine.
Supermarket News is a 50 year old weekly trade magazine that specializes in the U.S. food industry. The reporter who broke this story for the magazine won't reveal his sources, but he says it's clear, Ukrop's is exploring a sale.
Long thought to be the buyer, apparently Harris Teeter is currently out of the running.
"It sounds as if Harris Teeter was outbid by another group for Ukrop's," said Jon Springer: reporter with Supermarket News.
Jon Springer has been following the Ukrop's saga closely.
"It's something that I think a lot of people are interested in. You know Ukrop's is a pretty well thought of food retailer and so the news that they were looking for ... Looking to sell the company you know attracts a lot of attention," said Springer.
His sources say the store is currently in exclusive negotiations with an unnamed private equity group. He says that group of investors outbid Harris Teeter.
"I like Harris Teeter. I've lived in Virginia Beach and I would travel 30 minutes to shop at the store. I think it's the most comparative to Ukrop's that there is," said Richmond resident Debbie Henderson.
The internet was abuzz with the news. Twitter followers instantly spread the story around Richmond. One person said, "I would have been happy with Harris Teeter."
But opinions are varied and strong when it comes to this local chain. Many shoppers told us if Ukrop's has to sell, they like the idea of private investors.
"I would much rather have a private group of investors come in maybe they'll keep things the same or close to the same and not have a big chain come in and have that chain kind of feeling," said Susie Nance, works in Richmond.
"Equity groups are interested in making a profit so I think if they realize they can make a profit running things they way they were then they'll keep it the way it was. So it may be a good thing," said R.J. Fensterman, Chesterfield county resident.
Harris Teeter declined to comment today and Ukrop's remained silent. Although on its Twitter page it posted the message. "People sure do like to talk", the company has never publicly acknowledged a possible sale. But the buzz surrounding this story won't go away.