Shaw’s plans to close its supermarket in Biddeford by early next month.

The store, which employs 90 people, will close July 4, said Brian Dowling, vice president of public relations for Albertsons, the Idaho-based supermarket chain that owns Shaw’s. Store employees were informed of the closing Tuesday.

Dowling said Shaw’s is “constantly evaluating” its stores’ performance.

“Closing an underperforming store is always a tough decision, but we are focused on growing our business by being the favorite local supermarket, and running great stores where people love to shop,” he said. “That is what will enable us to offer the products and services our customers most value in Maine and everywhere else we operate.”

Dowling said the Biddeford store is the only one being closed in Maine and that the chain would try to offer jobs at other Shaw’s supermarkets to laid-off employees. Nearby communities with stores include Sanford, Saco, Scarborough, South Portland, Portland and Falmouth.

The chain operates 21 stores in Maine and employs 2,000 to 2,500 people, making it the state’s 11th-largest private employer. It is one of the oldest continuously operating supermarket chains in the country, dating to 1860, when George C. Shaw opened his first store in Portland.



The Biddeford Shaw’s has faced stiff competition in its market. Biddeford is also home to a Hannaford, a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Market Basket, which opened its first Maine store in Biddeford in August 2013.

The Massachusetts-based Market Basket is known for its low prices and customer loyalty. An employee-led boycott of its stores last summer resulted in the retention of a much-beloved CEO and thrust the chain into the national spotlight.

But Dowling said Market Basket’s arrival in the area was not the main reason Shaw’s decided to close its Biddeford location.

“The store had not been meeting performance expectations for quite some time in spite of our efforts, and the decision to close was not based on the impact of a single competitor,” he said.

Andrew Couch, a former Hannaford executive who now works as a consultant to grocery store chains, said he’d heard that the Biddeford Shaw’s was struggling before Market Basket opened. Although that’s probably true, he said, the arrival of Market Basket “was probably the tipping point” in the decision to close the Shaw’s store.


Couch, who lives in Falmouth and is managing director of DJM Real Estate, a division of Gordon Brothers Group in Boston, said Shaw’s and its parent Albertsons have actually been “making some great moves” and improving their operations, and that this “is more of a local, single-store issue that is competitively driven.”

Mike Norton, a spokesman for Hannaford, said its Biddeford location is doing well, but he wouldn’t speculate on what led to Shaw’s decision.

“I’ll leave it to others to talk about the business and the other strategies they’re pursuing, but we certainly feel good about all our stores in the region there,” he said. “Summer is coming and all those stores did very well last summer and we don’t expect any change this year.”


Attempts to reach David McLean, Market Basket’s operations manager, were not successful Wednesday afternoon. Previously, Market Basket said its Biddeford store was testing the waters in Maine and that more stores were likely if the pilot store performed well.

The Shaw’s parking lot was fairly empty Wednesday afternoon, while the nearby Market Basket parking lot was more crowded.


Reaction from Shaw’s customers was mixed.

Roger Lowell, a Kennebunk resident, wasn’t shocked to hear the news.

“I didn’t know this Shaw’s was closing, but it’s not a surprise,” he said while standing in the Shaw’s parking lot. “With all the grocery stores we have there’s probably quite a lot of competition.”

Joanne MacLeod, also from Kennebunk, was surprised and disappointed to hear that her favorite grocery store was closing.

“Everything is fresh here – the meat and produce – and the sales are always good,” she said. “I love this Shaw’s. I’m going to have to call my husband on the way home and tell him the news. He knows this is my store.”

Staff Photographer Whitney Hayward contributed to this report.


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