Amazon looking to buy four Fairway stores amid coronavirus chaos
Amazon is on the prowl once again — and this time it’s eyeing a handful of supermarkets owned by New York City grocer Fairway Market, The Post has learned.
The tech juggernaut run by Jeff Bezos is bidding on four stores owned by the bankrupt Fairway in New York and New Jersey, including one in Brooklyn, home to a popular waterfront mega-market in Red Hook, sources told The Post.
The auction, which kicked off Monday and continued into Thursday, comes as the coronavirus brings the country to its knees, raising recession fears. But COVID-19 has also proven a boon for Amazon’s online ordering business as people hunker down at home.
Shares of Amazon — based in Seattle, the epicenter of the crisis in the US — are up 4.6 percent this year, compared to a drop of 25 percent in the S&P 500. And Bezos — the richest man in the world — is its biggest shareholder.
Amazon has been focused on just four of Fairway’s 14 stores in recent negotiations, which have been held online and via phone due to the coronavirus, sources said. They include a store in Pelham, New York, about a half-hour north of Manhattan, a store in Brooklyn and two in New Jersey, sources said.
The New Jersey stores, sources said, are in Woodland Park and Paramus, both about 30 minutes west of Manhattan. In Brooklyn, Fairway owns a store in Red Hook, which boasts views of the Statue of Liberty, and is in the Georgetown neighborhood, near JFK Airport.
Amazon is keeping its plans for the stores close to its vest, however. While some watchers speculated that the tech giant could use the stores as distribution centers, its interest in Fairway comes as Bezos ramps up his supermarket footprint.
Amazon bought upscale grocery chain Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.4 billion and recently launched a cashierless grocery store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s also been working on a 20,000-square-foot grocery store in Woodland Hills, California, which is expected to be equipped with robots stocking shelves, as The Post reported in February.
Amazon’s Seattle store is a supermarket version of its Amazon Go convenience stores, which allow people to grab and go, paying via their phones. The Woodland store is slated to be even more high tech, focused on pickup and delivery with a separate section for shoppers to grab fresh groceries, according to a New York Times report last year.
And while business at Fairway has soared in recent weeks as people stock up on toilet paper and canned goods, Amazon “had been interested pre-virus,” a source confirmed.
The Seattle company is expected to win the auction, which resumed at 4 p.m. on Thursday, said one person familiar with the proceedings. “Amazon has deep pockets,” added the source, who did not want to be identified. “It’s like pocket change for them. If they want something they probably won’t be outbid.”
The Seattle company has not, however, expressed interest in buying the entire Fairway chain or its nearly century-old brand name, which has become synonymous with Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where Fairway got its start, sources added.
Fairway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January — for a second time since the Glickberg family that founded it sold an 80 percent stake to private-equity firm Sterling Investment for $140 million in 2007. Sterling loaded Fairway down with debt in order to expand it even as it was facing growing competition from physical supermarkets like Trader Joe’s and online delivery services like Amazon and Fresh Direct.
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