Businessman Thomas Ward, who less than a year ago opened a Selectos supermarket in the upscale Ciudadela apartment complex in Santurce, recently filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection, listing some $5 million in debt.
As it was reported last week, the Selectos store liquidated its inventory over the weekend, to close this week after lackluster sales and higher-than-expected operating costs. The store that opened Aug. 23, 2012 entailed a $5.5 million investment, as this media outlet reported.
The partial list of creditors included in the initial filing by Ward’s company, Selectos Whole Foods Inc.’s, is topped off by the Economic Development Bank, which is owed more than $2 million, American Express Corporate Card, with $352,517, and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which is owed upwards of $304,000.
Last week, Ward told a local daily newspaper that the electricity costs alone had negatively impacted the store’s bottom line and growth.
The store located in the heart of Santurce — but marketed as being in Condado — was believed to be the most modern supermarket on the island with features like a system of conveyor belts to ferry groceries from cashiers to a delivery area on the first floor and a dietician on the premises to offer advice to consumers who need to follow special diets due to specific health conditions.
The store near Stop 22 also housed a wine cellar, a pharmacy, a flower section, an olive bar, a section devoted to fish and shellfish, and an area with prepared food stations and seating for up to 80 customers. Its inventory featured gourmet selections in breads, cheeses, and other local and imported edibles.
With a staff of 233 part-time and full-time employees, Selectos at Ciudadela operated 24 hours a day, competing head-on with the Supermax store on De Diego Avenue and the Walmart that opened earlier this year a few blocks down on Stop 18 in Santurce.
The Ciudadela store is the second to close in recent months, joining the one at El Norte Shopping Center — also owned by Ward — which will be replaced by new Plaza Loíza supermarket slated to open soon. Ciudadela officials said last week that Selectos will be replaced with another supermarket.