Updated to include additional details on store acquirers.
NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- It's a game of survival of the fittest in the supermarket business nowadays, where profit margins are thinning thanks to supercenter behemoths Wal-Mart (WMT ) and Target (TGT ) selling more fresh produce and meat, as well the advance of grocery delivery services such as Blue Apron and Amazon's (AMZN ) Amazon Fresh.
And one storied East Coast supermarket chain may have just fallen victim to the new rules of the jungle, leaving some prominent chains poised to potentially feast on its remains.
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. which has been in business for around 156 years and operates the A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaums, Best Cellars, and Food Emporium supermarket chains, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday. The company said it has lined
up tentative deals with three buyers -- Stop & Shop, Key Foods, and Acme Markets -- that would purchase 120 stores employing 12,500 employees for about $600 million.
If the plan falls through, however, the company did not rule out a liquidation, which would lead to sweeping store closures and layoffs.
A&P also said it was in discussions with additional suitors for the possible sales of more stores, and the company plans to close 25 stores soon due to a lack of interest and "significant ongoing store operating losses," it said in a statement .
A&P listed about $2.3 billion in debts and $1.6 billion in assets in its bankruptcy filing. It has 296 supermarkets mostly in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, and its stores are 93% unionized. A call seeking comment was not immediately returned by A&P.