A bankruptcy court in Delaware Monday approved bids by discount chain Grocery Outlet for six shuttered California stores previously operated by the now-bankrupt Fresh & Easy, Grocery Outlet confirmed.

Sales of the stores, including one at 1803 E. Chapman Ave. in Orange, are expected to be finalized by the end of the year. The five other stores are in Rosemead, Long Beach, Downey, Whittier and Sunnyvale.

Grocery Outlet, which had previously operated stores in Buena Park and Fountain Valley, returned to Orange County last week with the opening of a new location in Costa Mesa. That store is a former Fresh & Easy. Chain officials say former Fresh & Easy spaces are the right fit for the brand. The growing chain will open another store in Westminster this week, and La Habra will be next. Those locations also are former Fresh & Easy markets.

The Emeryville-based discounter has 235 stores in six states and plans to add 30 stores in Orange and Los Angeles counties by the end of 2017.

Torrance-based Fresh & Easy filed for bankruptcy in October, marking the company’s second bankruptcy filing. Fresh & Easy has since closed almost 100 stores.

The chain isn’t the only grocer to have trouble making it in Southern California’s $44 billion a year grocery market. Northwest grocer Haggen filed for bankruptcy in September, a mere six months after entering the market.

Haggen entered the market here in March after buying 146 Albertsons and Vons stores outside its core Pacific Northwest market. Eleven of its 83 California locations were in Orange County.

It has since found bidders for many locations, including more than half of its Orange County stores. Smart & Final and Gelson’s were among the chains to pick up new stores.

Grocery Outlet may soon have competition, as Aldi, another discount grocer, looks to open stores in Orange County next year.

Source: OC Register