By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 24, 2006
Giant Food LLC is selling its dairy operation and processing plant in Landover to the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative for an undisclosed amount, the grocery chain said yesterday.
The new management intends to keep the plant's 90 workers after the sale, which is set for March 25, Giant spokesman Barry F. Scher said.
The move marks Giant's exit from the manufacturing business, part of its refocusing effort after several years of stumbling following its purchase by Dutch-owned Royal Ahold NV in 1998. It had announced last spring that it planned to sell the plant, along with its 80-acre corporate headquarters.
The campus was sold in January to developer Preferred Real Estate Investments Inc. of Conshohocken, Pa., for $45 million. Giant had already stopped making ice cream and ice cubes at its Landover site and moved some of its distribution work to a facility in Jessup, resulting in the layoff of 500 workers.
The Reston cooperative is owned by 1,500 dairy farmers from Pennsylvania to Georgia, said Amber DuMont, manager of communications and education. The co-op has supplied the Giant plant with raw milk for three decades and has "a vested interest" in ensuring it remains operational, she said.
"It just makes an obvious fit for our business," DuMont said.
The co-op owns two other processing plants, in Newport News, Va., and New Bern, N.C. It also has a manufacturing plant in Laurel and an equipment-supply warehouse in Frederick.
The Landover plant is to be renamed Marva Maid, after the co-op's private milk brand that is available in Northern Virginia, Scher said. The plant will also continue to make Giant-brand milk for the grocery chain.