Marketplace Holdings is a local, privately owned and minority controlled business committed to serving consumers in the Richmond area. Earlier this week, Delhaize America, the parent company of Food Lion announced its proposal to divest the local Hannaford stores to Kroger to complete this pending merger.

Johnny Johnson, CEO of Marketplace Holdings Inc. said, "last fall when Food Lion originally announced its intention to acquire Hannafords, and it became clear that the Federal Trade Commission would require Food Lion to divest stores, I contacted Food Lion regarding the potential purchase of the stores in question."

He continued, "regrettably, we have not been treated fairly in the process. Even though we have the ability to make this acquisition and close it quickly, we have been excluded from the process. Although Food Lion has announced its tentative agreement with Kroger, the submission of this agreement is only one step in this process because the FTC must give its approval to finalize the deal."

"Our issue with this process is not that we went to bid on the stores and a national chain won. The issue is that we wanted to bid on these stores, but only Kroger was allowed, that being the largest grocery chain in the United States. Simply put, we are being denied equal opportunity to grow in the Richmond market place! And, that's not only disastrous for us, but it's bad for Richmond and every emerging company that wants a fair shot at succeeding and competing with the giants. Since most minority owned companies are small, how are they supposed to grow if they are excluded from these opportunities. Keep in mind that we did not lose here because of price or our financial wherewithal. We lost because we were never given a fair chance."

Currently the Richmond Markets are served by a diverse group of national, regional, and independent chains. Johnny went on to say "Marketplace Holdings has served this community for over eight years and continues to be interested in any Hannaford/Food Lion stores divested in our area. I see these potential acquisitions as a critical link to our long-term stability in this market."

"I am hopeful that when given a fair hearing by the FTC, we will get a fair conclusion, which means we will be able to compete for those stores on the same merits with Kroger, if so, we are confident we will win. All we are asking for is a level playing field and not one where only the "haves" can play and the "have nots" are forced to stand aside and watch their markets be taken away from them. We will not ignore this injustice, because to do so would be to not only play a part in the Demise of the Independent Retailer, but also to accept that the cards will always be stacked against small and minority owned businesses. Creative, innovative, competitive, and locally- responsive ideas do not come from the large companies! In fact we (The Independents) are the reason for competition in the economy today. This strong economy is built on the backbones of small companies just like mine. I will continue this fight for all small businesses in this country. Consolidation is not for everyone!" Johnson said.

Marketplace Holdings Inc. operates 8 stores under the Community Pride and Rack N Sack banners in the Richmond area.