Future of Sweetbay’s distribution center unclear following sale

By on June 13, 2013

Bi-Lo Holdings’ recent acquisition of more than 70 Sweetbay stores includes the Plant City location on Alexander Street.

But as of press time, it does not include the local distribution facility.

The company, which owns and operates both the BI-LO and Winn-Dixie franchises, announced May 28, its purchase of all Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s supermarket chains from Belgium-based Delhaize Group.

Bi-Lo plans to pay $265 million for the stores.

Plant City’s Sweetbay is one of 72 Sweetbay stores in the sale. The deal also includes 10 leases for 10 prior locations, 72 Harveys Supermarket locations and 11 Reid’s stores. The total comes to 165 stores, with about 10,000 employees throughout the Southeast. The stores generated about $1.8 billion of revenues last year.

“We are pleased to announce this transaction, which will build on the strength of our BI-LO and Winn-Dixie stores and allow us to extend our great products at great value to a broader customer base,” said Randall Onstead, president and CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings, in a written statement. “Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s are well-recognized and trusted businesses that share our passion for exceptional service. We look forward to welcoming the outstanding associates of all three chains to the BI-LO Winn-Dixie family.”

The announcement did not address the Sweetbay’s Plant City distribution center, and a representative from Sweetbay did not know whether the center had been included in the negotiation of the sale.

Bi-Lo representatives would not confirm whether the center was part of the sale.

“The transaction is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976,” Brian Wright, Bi-Lo’s senior director of communications, said.  “In addition, we have only just announced this agreement, and there are still many details to work through. We will provide updates, including decisions related to each of the banners, as we move closer to completing this transaction.”

The sale is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2013. Until the transaction is complete, Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s will continue to operate independently from Bi-Lo Holdings and its subsidiaries.

“We would like to thank the associates of Sweetbay, Harveys, and Reid’s for their ongoing commitment and accomplishments throughout the years,” said Delhaize Group CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers, in a written statement. “We believe this transaction represents a significant move towards simplifying our business and will allow for even greater focus at Delhaize America. The transaction will further increase the financial flexibility required to execute our strategic priorities.”

Delhaize Group is a Belgian international food retailer present in 10 countries on three continents.

Contact Amber Jurgensen at ajurgensen@plantcityobserver.com.

About Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor

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