WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen here is cultivating its roots as a big new competitor -- Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass. -- sprouts up on its turf.
The Long Island-based chain, which has 45 stores in Nassau and Suffolk counties plus one in Staten Island, has launched an advertising campaign that trumpets itself as the region's only major locally based supermarket operator. Atop one of its circulars, it said, "King Kullen. Long Island's Family Supermarket+ Keeping your food dollars at home!"
The campaign's kick-off ad, appearing earlier this month, read, "Do you know who owns or controls the supermarket where you shop? The facts may surprise you.
"Contrary to what you may think, Waldbaum's is not family-owned and has not been family-owned for a number of years. It's actually controlled by The Tengelmann Group, a German-based company, the very same company that controls A&P and Food Emporium. Edwards is owned by a Netherlands corporation, Royal Ahold NV, who just last week announced its agreement to buy Stop & Shop, the recent purchaser of Mel Weitz's Foodtowns. Pathmark is controlled by Merrill Lynch, and Grand Union is based in New Jersey.
"The only major supermarket chain that remains Long Island-owned and operated is King Kullen. And because we're based on Long Island, we understand your lifestyle, your needs. For over three generations we've been a part of Long Island+ So what does this mean to you? It means that when you shop at King Kullen you're assured that the money you spend stays right here in your own community."
Industry observers have been watching the Long Island market closely since late last year, when Stop & Shop acquired Melmarkets, a 17-store Foodtown chain based in Garden City, N.Y. Last month, Stop & Shop agreed to be acquired by Ahold, whose Edwards Super Food Stores on Long Island compete with market leaders Waldbaum's, Pathmark and King Kullen.
Stop & Shop has said it expects to open five or six stores a year on Long Island using Melmarkets as a base.
This month, Stop & Shop announced three new superstores for Suffolk County: Holbrook, East Islip and Farmingville. Another Suffolk store, in South Setauket, is under construction. Plans to open a Nassau store in Roslyn have been held up by community opposition.