Officials in Cheektowaga and Lancaster are dealing with word that a major employer is pulling out of their towns.
Ahold USA plans to transfer their Cheektowaga and Lancaster warehouse operations to facilities operated by C & S Wholesale Grocers in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The move will leave 600 workers out of a job.
Ahold is a major international food retailer based in the Netherlands. The company currently operates American Sales Company warehouses located on Walden Avenue in Lancaster and Scrivner Place in Cheektowaga. Those facilities supply general merchandise, health and beauty supplies and other nonfood items to Ahold supermarket chains.
The company owned Tops Markets from 1991 to 2007. Since selling Tops, Ahold officials reportedly say the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts locations are more centrally located to handle operations involving their stores.
Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski says she was devastated by the news and reached out to Ahold’s Director of Government Affairs to try and convince the company to stay.
“He explained about the efficiency of the operations, that they had no choice. But he did let me know that it was only 18 jobs in Cheektowaga, and the remainder of the jobs was from Lancaster,” said Benczkowski.
Benczkowski says the news is especially challenging, coming at the start of her term as supervisor. She says she is committed to finding a new tenant for Ahold’s Scrivner Place warehouse location. She says the building was rented by the company and their departure will not affect the town’s tax base.
Officials say the warehouse transition is expected to be completed by August. Employees will be offered severance packages based on their years of service.
Town of Lancaster Supervisor Johanna Coleman says she is is optimistic about the future of American Sales, Ahold’s Lancaster warehouse, and its impact on the local economy.
“I would be in hopes that they would be able to market that building, because the location is a prime location in the region. It happens to be located on a major highway, which is Walden Avenue and that is located in Lancaster’s light industrial corridor,” Coleman told WBFO.
Coleman says the building itself is owned by Ahold, and is especially valuable for its immediate access to the New York State Thruway. She says the move is bound to have a spin-off effect on restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores near the facility.