Bottom Dollar closing in Exeter to impact 30-35 employees

News photo by Donna Rovins The Bottom Dollar Food Store on Shelbourne Road in Exeter Township is slated to be closed by mid-February, on of three under performing stores in the Philadelphia area.

The clearance sale has already started at the Bottom Dollar Food Store on Shelbourne Road in Exeter Township. The discount grocery store, which opened Dec. 17, 2010, will be closed by mid-February, according to the company that operates the store.

Delhaize America last week announced plans to close three “underperforming stores” in its Philadelphia operating area.

“While these decisions are very difficult, especially given the impact on our associates, customers and communities, our actions will continue to fuel profitable growth for the company,” a statement released by the company said.

The Shelbourne location is one of three Bottom Dollar stores in Berks County, and one of two locations in Exeter Township. The other location, in the Reading Mall Shopping Center, will remain open, as will the Bottom Dollar located at 413 Lancaster Avenue.

Company spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said the Shelbourne Road store has between 30 and 35 employees.

“Eligible associates, including full-time and part-time associates, will receive severance and will have an opportunity to apply for any open positions at the company,” she added.

The two Exeter Bottom Dollar stores are located within about one mile of each other. They opened one week apart in December 2010. The Reading Mall store opened first, on Dec. 10.

When questioned whether the close proximity of the Exeter Township stores contributed to the underperformance, Phillips-Brown said, “While we don’t elaborate on the specific elements of each store’s underperformance, each of the stores closed did not meet our standards for profitability.”

Nor would Phillips-Brown comment on the initial decision to locate the two stores so close to each other.

“For competitive reasons, we don’t comment on our real estate strategies. However, we use a number of criteria when identifying stores and locations,” she added.

But Exeter Township Manager Troy Bingaman said he “saw it coming” when the two stores opened.

“Other than Sovereign Bank, which has two branches 0.5 mile apart, I have never seen this happen,” Bingaman said. “I believe what happened is, they wanted to be at the Reading Mall, and this other building came available first. They had already committed to Shelbourne when the Reading Mall lease came available.”

Supervisor Jeff Bukowski said that while he is disappointed in the decision, he’s not surprised, because of the close proximity of the two stores.

“I hope Bottom Dollar will be successful in its one combined store in the Reading Mall.I would think patrons who shopped at Shelbourne Square will make the trip a mile or so down the road to shop at the Reading Mall location. We will add the Shelbourne Square location to our available inventory and do what we can to help the landlord promote that location to potential replacement tenants.”

For Exeter, which is looking to focus on retention of business and growing its commercial and industrial tax base, Bingaman added he doesn’t really expect a big financial impact on the township.

“The owner will still be responsible for the taxes,” he said.

Bingaman said Panera Bread is looking to locate in the township and has already appeared before the Planning Commission. He said the company will appear at Zoning Board in early Feb. to request variances for the pad site, located at the Boscov’s Outlet Mall on Perkiomen Avenue.

Bukowski has been a proponent of the township hiring a master planner to focus on Exeter’s economic development; developing a plan for what the township wants to look like in the coming years.

“And then we need to relentlessly execute that plan in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” he said. “Having a plan and executing it will be a strong signal to both current and prospective residents and businesses that Exeter Township is dedicated to being a great place to live, work and play, which will cause them to want to stay here or come here.”

The other two Bottom Dollar stores that are being closed in the Philadelphia region are in North Wales, (Montgomery County) and Chalfont, (Bucks County). Following the closings, Bottom Dollar Food will have 53 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio, including 37 locations in greater Philadelphia.

“In 2013, Bottom Dollar Food will continue its expansion in both the greater Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets, including the opening of eight previously announced locations by the end of the year,” according to the company statement.

Bottom Dollar is a subsidiary of the Delhaize America, which also operates Food Lion, Harveys, Hannaford Supermarkets, Reid’s and Sweetbay Supermarket. The parent company is Delhaize Group, a Belgian-based international grocer.