Hempfield grocery store operator bankrupt
The firm that operated a Shop 'n Save store along Route 136 in Hempfield has filed for bankruptcy, claiming it has only $35,320 in a bank checking account but more than $1.5 million in liabilities, including a $765,000 claim by the benefits fund for its former employees.
Hempfield Foods Inc. of 136 Janyce Drive filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh and is seeking to liquidate its remaining assets.
The store closed this spring when Hempfield Foods' lease with SuperValu Holdings Inc. expired on April 30. SuperValu, a Minneapolis-area food distributor, owns the store and surrounding property.
Jeffrey Skatell, vice president of Hempfield Foods and the corporate officer who signed the bankruptcy documents, could not be reached for comment.
Hempfield Foods said it has fewer than 50 creditors, but $1.34 million is owed to just two creditors: the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 23 in Cecil Township, which represented the workers, and James A. Skatell of Hempfield, who is listed as the vice president and treasurer of Hempfield Foods on the state Corporations Bureau filing.
Hempfield Foods states in the filing that the Food and Commercial Workers Union' benefits fund has a $765,000 claim that is not a priority for repayment. Richard Granger, strategic program director for Local 23, did not respond to messages for a comment.
Robert H. Slone,a Greensburg bankruptcy attorney representing Hempfield Foods, said the claim is not an indication that Hempfield Foods has not paid into the union's benefit fund, or that there is no money to pay the benefits.
“It may or may not be accurate,” Slone said.
The trustee appointed to oversee the bankruptcy case, Charles O. Zebely Jr. of Uniontown, would determine whether the benefits are funded, Slone said.
The bankruptcy petition states that employees may be owed up to $12,475 per person for money earned within six months of the closing of the business.
Slone said he believes all but the company's top officers received the wages they were owed.
James A. Skatell's claim of $581,000 is listed as an unsecured nonpriority claim.
The first meeting of the creditors is scheduled for June 11 in the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg.
The Skatells had previously operated a Save-A-Lot supermarket on Lowry Avenue in Jeannette from 2005 until it closed in January 2010.
The Shop 'n Save on Route 136 in Hempfield had previously been operated by Davis Supermarkets Inc. of Greensburg and was purchased by SuperValu in October 1996. SuperValu has a claim of $28,000, secured by machinery, equipment and inventory, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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