IMPENDING consolidation among retailers in the fragmented Northeast was perhaps the industry's worst-kept secret as 2007 began. By the time the year ended, consolidation was indeed in full effect. The signature deal there was the merging of A&P and Pathmark — a combination seen as years in the making by observers. In the months before the deal was announced in March, its participants spoke openly about the forces requiring additional scale and market strength. Though it was making ...

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