US regional grocery retailer Penn Traffic has announced that it is seeking permission from the US Bankruptcy Court to sell 11 of its Big Bear supermarkets in central Ohio to Kroger Co. for US$20m exclusive of the inventory in the stores.

At an auction currently set for 3 December, other companies will be allowed to outbid Kroger for some or all of this package of 11 stores and to bid on other Big Bear assets, including stores, store leases and Big Bear's three Columbus-based warehouses, the company said.

"We are considering a number of strategies, including the sale or closing of the entire Big Bear division," said Steven G. Panagos, Penn Traffic's interim chief executive officer.

Penn Traffic entered chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 30 May. Since then it has closed one supermarket and announced the closing by the end of the year of another 41 supermarkets.