Rumors that Matthews-based Harris Teeter could be for sale have town leaders mulling over the company’s local impact.
National media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, were reporting last this week the company is considering a sale and has retained J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to explore its options. Harris Teeter corporate offices, 701
Crestdale Road, employ about 400 people, company spokeswoman Danna Jones said.
Late last week the company issued a statement confirming its retention of financial adviser J.P. Morgan “to assist the company in holding discussions with certain parties regarding strategic alternatives.” Harris Teeter has been approached by two companies interesting in buying the chain, according to the statement.
In the statement, Harris Teeter warns: “There can be no assurance that these discussions will result in any transaction.”
The grocery store chain, headquartered in Matthews since 1990, is among the top five employers in Matthews and a “very good corporate partner,” Mayor Jim Taylor said this week.
Taylor, who said he hasn’t heard any news from the company, hopes if there is a sale, the impact on the town will be minimal. The company’s 2012 Matthews property tax bill was $24,582.66, town spokeswoman Annette Privette Keller said.
In September, the company bought the former 163,846-square-foot PCA International photo-processing building at 815 Matthews-Mint Hill Road for $2.45 million, according to a Mecklenburg County regulatory filing. At press time Jones said there were no details about how Harris Teeter intends to use the building.
“I’m concerned whenever there’s any news about any business in the Town of Matthews that may be leaving,” Taylor said. “When you have a corporate headquarters here, like Harris Teeter or Family Dollar, it does add a little sense of pride …”
If a competitor does purchase the company, Taylor said he expects “some consolidations, but I would hope layoffs would be limited.”
Talk of the “trickle down economics” from a sale are concerning, too. Taylor said he knows there are many Matthews-based businesses who count Harris Teeter as a valued client.
“I could see (the economic impact) changing dramatically depending on who the acquirer was, if they were acquired,” he said.
Paul Jamison, chair of the town’s economic development advisory board and local real estate agent, said if the company is sold and employees move he doesn’t expect a large housing impact in Matthews.
“There’s not many folks that live here and work here,” he said. “Most of the density in the industry here is not supported by the residents here.”