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March 26, 2019

Maine Food City chain becomes employee-owned

Courtesy / Food City Holdings Inc. Employees at the Food City in Livermore Falls display an employee-owned banner.

Food City Holdings Inc., doing business as Food City and Save-A-Lot food stores, has completed a transaction to become 100% employee-owned through its employee stock ownership plan.

Founded in 1985, the Lewiston company is owned and managed by father-and-son team Stanley and Zak Sclar. It employs 320 people in nine stores, including seven Food City stores in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, and two Save-A-Lots in Maine.

Food City has locations in Lisbon Falls, Turner, Bridgton, Livermore Falls, Wilton in Maine; , Turners Falls, Mass., and St. Albans, Vt. The two Save-A-Lots are in Lewiston and Waterville.

All eligible employees will be granted shares of company stock each year, at no cost, allowing them to earn ownership over time and accumulate tax-deferred retirement savings.

The Sclars have 50 years of combined real estate and grocery management expertise. Zak Sclar told Mainebiz he will remain CEO and his father will stay on as a consultant.

“We’re excited about this next chapter,” he said.

The transaction took about a year to execute and became effective March 3, he said.

What drove the ESOP?

Sclar said that the primary purpose of the ESOP was to reward the company’s employees.

“They’ve been very loyal and we’re fortunate to have such a dedicated crew,” he said. “It’s nice to make a business deal that feels good ethically and morally and also can work out fine financially.”

He said in the release that each employee is a “trusted team member.”

“We want everyone to take ownership, from long time store managers to the newest team member,” Sclar said. He said the ESOP with foster pride among employees.

“Our managers take ownership and feel like they are running their own stores,” he said. “Together we strive to be more innovative and responsive to our customers’ needs.”

Food City Holdings was advised by AmbroseAdvisors, a national investment banking firm specialized in employee-ownership transitions, and Stonecoast Financial Group of UBS Financial Services, Wealth Managers and Certified Exit Planning Advisors in Portland.

“Zak and Stanley’s goal was to secure a sustainable future for the company in a way that would be highly beneficial to the employees, customers, vendors and the community in addition to themselves,” Marcus Piquet, senior managing director with AmbroseAdvisors, said in the release. “Employee ownership, done right, benefits all stakeholders and should be celebrated.”

Food City Holding was Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association’s 2016 Grocer of the Year.

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