Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co said it filed a motion seeking approval to close 32 stores in six states as the bankrupt grocer tries to fend off growing pressure in the low-margin supermarket business.

The company, which last week said Chief Financial Officer Brenda Galgano will step down in March, expects the store closures to be completed in its first quarter.

In December, analysts said the company -- which operates 395 stores -- may have to shutter about a quarter of them.

Once the largest U.S. grocer, A&P filed for bankruptcy protection in December as it ran low on cash and was squeezed by discounters like Costco Wholesale Corp , Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp .

(Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Bangalore; Editing by Vyas Mohan)