business news in context, analysis with attitude has a story this morning that updates the speculation about a possible sale of Ukrop’s, which has been rumored for several months. Among the fresh reporting:

• While the Ukrop family has been shopping the company around, it so far has been unable to get the price it wants, in part because of the recession and in part because at least one potential bidder, Harris Teeter, did not want to buy all of its stores.

• It is said that Ukrop’s recent decision to close its Roanoke store, as well as one of two Williamsburg stores late last year, could help with a sale by eliminating unprofitable locations.

• One other rumored suitor is said to be North Carolina-based Lowes Foods, though was unable to confirm that information.

• It is said that the Ukrop family wants to make a condition of the sale that any buyer would not be able to open on Sunday or sell alcohol if they keep the Ukrop’s name on the stores.
KC's View:
It seems highly likely that the chain is going to be sold, and at this point it may be for the best, since our information is that morale is on a steady decline since all these rumors began circulating. This is actually painful to report, since Ukrop’s was always one of those special companies where employee engagement and morale was always one of its real strengths.

That said, it must be said that it takes real arrogance to suggest that a buyer will have to agree to certain conditions, like not selling alcohol or staying closed on Sundays. If that’s the approach that Ukrop’s ownership want to take in its operation of the business, that’s fine…but setting out those kinds of conditions would be sort of like the buyer being able to tell the Ukrop family how it can spend the money when it cashes the check.

Without the name, all a buyer will be getting is real estate…and I assume that Ukrop’s wants to charge a premium for its brand equity. You can't always get what you want….