Johnnie’s Foodmaster, one of the last family-run urban grocers in Massachusetts, is closing six supermarkets in November and selling the leases to Whole Foods Market Inc.
The upscale Texas chain confirmed Friday that it is taking over Johnnie’s Foodmaster locations in Arlington, Brookline, Charlestown, Melrose, South Weymouth, and the Beacon Street site in Somerville.
Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close Nov. 30, are not being disclosed. Whole Foods said it will remodel the Johnnie’s supermarkets, which average about 31,000 square feet, and reopen them as Whole Foods stores by fall 2013.
As part of the agreement, Whole Foods said it has guaranteed interviews to all Johnnie’s Foodmaster employees at the six acquired locations with the goal of hiring as many as possible.
Johnnie’s Foodmaster, which is based in Chelsea, operates 10 stores, including the six affected by the lease sales agreement with Whole Foods. A spokeswoman for Johnnie’s did not return messages asking about the future of the company’s four remaining supermarkets.
John DeJesus, owner of Johnnie’s Foodmaster, said in a statement that the opportunity to sell the other six to Whole Foods “made a tough decision much easier.” He added, “The time was right to make this change for our company. I am confident that we have found the best partner that offers the most positive outcome, not only for our employees but for the communities as well.”
Laura Derba, president of Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region, said in a statement that the additional locations will help the grocer, which operates 21 stores in Massachusetts, expand its presence in the Boston region.
‘The time was right to make this change for our company.’
“Like Foodmaster, Whole Foods Market has a long history of supporting the communities we serve, and we are excited to bring our fresh, quality foods at affordable prices to these six new market areas,” Derba said.Jenn Abelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jennabelson.