Blue Square chairman Dudi Wiessman may be planning to sell about ten branches of the company's Shefa Shuk supermarket chain, located in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, say sources close to the versatile businessman.
Wiessman himself says he intends to pull out of his involvement in the ultra-Orthodox sector, following the boycott declared against Shefa Shuk due to the operation of Wiessman's AM:PM convenience store chain on Shabbat. The two chains are not related except by ownership.
Shefa Shuk operates 40 branches, most of which are located in mixed observant and secular neighborhoods.
One possible buyer for the Shefa Shuk branches suffering from the boycott is Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma, which currently operates 12 branches.
Rami Levy, however, denies any such specific intention.
"We are interested in expanding and opening new branches, and have considered acquiring competing chain stores, but there are no negotiations taking place with Blue Square," Levy told TheMarker.
The ultra-Orthodox boycott of companies in Wiessman's Dor Alon group, including Blue Square and Shefa Shuk, began about three months ago, after the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat decreed a ban on "doing business" with Wiessman's various enterprises.
Possibly, it's hurting. Shefa Shuk sales are reportedly down by 50%, resulting in streamlining steps instituted by the parent company Blue Square, including layoffs and the merging of Shefa Shuk's administrative headquarters into those of Mega, another Blue Square chain.
In response to the assessment that Wiessman would be pulling out of the ultra-Orthodox sector and continue operating AM:PM stores on Shabbat, committee chairman Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, said, "Our successes are measured in the long term, and other businesses have notified us of their decision to close on Shabbat following this boycott."
No comment could be obtained from Blue Square before press time.
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