LEOMINSTER, Mass. (AP) – Supermarket chain Hannaford Bros. Co. has bought Victory Super Markets, an 81-year-old family-owned chain with stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the companies announced.

Arthur “Jay” DiGeronimo, Victory’s president and CEO, called the $175 million deal “an offer I couldn’t refuse.” DiGeronimo, who had been in negotiations with Hannaford since February, said most of the company’s 2,600 employees will not be laid off.

Hannaford said in a prepared statement that “all retail associates will retain their jobs.” Victory’s corporate headquarters in Leominster will close and the 40 employees there will lose their jobs.

Hannaford said those workers can apply for open positions at its stores or corporate offices.

“It was a tough decision,” DiGeronimo told The Lowell Sun. “We’ve done this for 81 years now and it’s our lifeblood. The hope of the family is that our staff and Hannaford will succeed wildly.”

Hannaford is scheduled to take over the 19 Victory stores by the end of the year.

Victory Super Markets started in 1923 when DiGeronimo’s grandfather and his brother opened an 800-square-foot delivery market on Mechanic Street in Leominster. The family opened their first self-serve supermarket in Leominster in 1955. Today, the company reports annualized sales of approximately $385 million.

Hannaford, based in Scarborough, Maine, is owned by the Delhaize Group of Belgium. It currently has 21,500 employees and 120 stores in New England and New York.

Caren Epstein, Hannaford’s spokeswoman, said Hannaford officials had talked about an acquisition with Victory’s owners before, but that they weren’t interested in selling.

“We indicated that when and if the time came that they were interested in selling that we were very interested in talking with them,” she said. “The time came.”

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