Andersons to close all stores, including those in Toledo and Maumee

(Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL)
Andersons shoppers leave Talmadge Rd. store (Source: WTOL)
Andersons shoppers leave Talmadge Rd. store (Source: WTOL)

MAUMEE, OH (WTOL) - The Andersons announced on Sunday evening that it is shutting down its retail operations, including the stores in Toledo and Maumee.

The stores will be closed sometime in the spring.

The two stores have been fixtures in the area since the 1980s and 1950s respectively.

On Sunday evening, the company held a closed-door meeting with employees at the Maumee store where they made the announcement.

According to the company, the closure will eliminate approximately 650 positions in the Toledo area and an additional 400 positions in Columbus.

It will be business as usual at the stores for the next few months, but then a liquidation of the merchandise will begin in April. The closings will happen in the second quarter of 2017, most likely in June, according to CEO Pat Bowe.

WTOL spoke with employees who were at the meeting and found that many of them felt this day was coming, but the news was still hard to take.

Some of the employees were in to tears as they were told the news.

One ten year employee says she felt sorry for Dan Anderson, grandson of the founder, and manager of the retail division.

"We feel bad for Mr. Anderson. We know how hard he tried to build the company and turn it into something. We hope that down the road a lot of these people will be placed in other jobs," said Wanda Gabala.

The company says it will provide employees with severance packages and assistance in finding new work.

"The decision to close The Andersons stores was not easy for anyone involved," said Bowe. "Choosing to cease a business that has spanned 65 years and employs about 1,050 people is tremendously difficult."

Bowe also says he feels bad for the customers.

"The Andersons has had a long legacy of great customers and we feel terrible about that, but this was a difficult time for us to compete in the market with the retail challenges we had."

The company says the full financial impact of the closing on the company has not been determined. But Bowe says customer frequency and total sales have been declining.

"For the last eight years, we've lost probably more than $20 million and have invested $27 million into those stores," said Bowe. "So just the path forward looked too difficult for us."

Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson's response:

"We are saddened to learn that The Andersons traditional retail operations will no longer be available here. The home grown Anderson's stores began as family-operated places where shoppers  enjoyed interacting with well-trained staff members and have served as a training ground for young people to learn strong work ethics directly from The Anderson family."

U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur's response:

"I feel sad because obviously I shop there too and the quality and the way they put into every single shelf in their stores will be sorely missed. I'm old enough to remember when Andersons, when they were first starting at the old Adams Township, and it was kind of our store."

Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken calls the news 'stunning' and 'a brand name loss for Lucas County.'

He says they have to immediately spring into action and think about the workforce that's being laid off.

The Lucas County Commissioners worked with the Andersons to provide them an access road to their new headquarters, a road with was built through an apartment complex.

"I'm disappointed that this was never a consideration. This was a good faith issue that we were working with them on the world headquarters. There was not any indication that the retail division was in jeopardy," said Gerken.

Gerken says good news is the area has retained a Fortune 500 company with a headquarters in the Toledo area, but he understands most people don't think grain when they think of the Andersons, they think stores.

The Lucas County Commissioners later released a statement on the closings:

"The Lucas County Commissioners are disappointed and saddened to learn of the closure of all retail operations by the Anderson's in Lucas County. We will work with management and affected employees to ensure that those that will be searching for new employment will have the necessary resources available through Lucas County's workforce development programs."

Background on the Andersons

The Andersons Markets and General Stores are just one of 6 different divisions of Andersons Inc. which started in the 1940s as a grain trucking firm and later became a large grain elevator facility in the late 1940s.

In the past 60 years, the company has expanded its portfolio into a variety of other divisions including ethanol fuel production, fertilizing, manufacturing and rail car repair.

The company is based in Maumee and was run exclusively by the Anderson family until the 1990s when it was incorporated and started to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

In the 1950s, the company began its retail operations by opening the first Andersons Market, which was a farm supply warehouse.

In the 1980's, The Andersons opened their first "General Stores" in Toledo and Maumee.

In later years, the company opened other stores, including two in Columbus which remain open today.

In the past 6 years, the company has closed several of retail outlets including a store in Lima, a store at the Woodville Mall in Northwood, and just last October, a grocery store in Sylvania on Sylvania Ave.

The closing comes as the retail division has been losing significant sums of cash for the company.

In 2015, they lost more than $1.5 million in sales, and posted a $2.6 million loss in revenues for the first 3 quarters of 2016.

Store sales were down last year over 6%, year to year.

In recent years, the Andersons entire company has been posting gross revenues in excess of $4 billion annually.

In May of 2016, the Andersons rejected a buyout offer for the entire company of $1 billion from the HC2 Holding company  in New York.

The Andersons called the offer the wrong time, wrong price and wrong company.

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