Retail group Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) has sold 19 Sav-A-Center stores in New Orleans to Louisiana-based Rouse’s Supermarket.

The sale is part of A&P’s strategy to focus its operations in the north-east of the US. The company also said that it had sold two other Sav-A-Center outlets to other buyers.

A&P expects transfer of ownership of all the stores to be completed during the next six weeks. As part of the sale agreement, the retailer ensured that most of the store employees would be retained.

A&P said the sale of the Sav-A-Center stores completes its exit from non-core markets, allowing it to concentrate its retail operations in the north-east.

“This marks a critical step in A&P’s strategic transformation, enabling us to focus all resources on our core operations in the Northeast,” said president and CEO Eric Claus.

In keeping with its strategy to focus on the Northeast, in March A&P entered an agreement to acquire New Jersey-based Pathmark Stores. A&P expects that deal, which is currently under FTC review, to be completed during the second half of the current fiscal year.