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The Boston Globe

Business

Whole Foods to buy leases for six Johnnie’s Foodmaster stores

A Johnnie's Foodmaster store in Somerville.

JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/File

A Johnnie's Foodmaster store in Somerville.

Whole Foods Market Inc., the Texas-based upscale supermarket chain, said Friday that it has agreed to buy six leases from Johnnie’s Foodmaster, a family-owned grocery chain based in Chelsea.

Terms of the transaction are not being disclosed. The six leases are for stores in South Weymouth, Arlington, Charlestown, Brookline, Melrose, and the Beacon Street store in Somerville.

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Plans call for Johnnie’s Foodmaster to will close all six locations before the sales agreement’s Nov. 30 closing date.

Whole Foods, which currently operates 21 stores in Massachusetts, said it will then remodel the Johnnie’s stores, which have an average footprint of 31,000 square feet. The goal is to reopen them as Whole Foods stores by the fall of 2013.

As part of the agreement, Whole Foods Market 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 currently operates 10 stores, including the six stores affected by the lease sales agreement with Whole Foods.

John DeJesus, owner of Johnnie’s Foodmaster, was unavailable for an interview, his spokeswoman said.

In a statement, DeJesus said: “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.”

A Globe story from August noted that Whole Foods and Johnnie’s Foodmaster were in talks to explore such a deal.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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