Monday, October 05, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Food Lion's parent company in talks to acquire Bi-Lo assets

(Associated Press 10/5/2009)

Belgian international food retailer Delhaize Group is in talks to buy shops and inventory worth $425 million from South Carolina-based BI-LO, a grocery chain that entered bankruptcy proceedings earlier this year.

In a statement Monday, Delhaize Group said it was in non-binding talks to acquire “a substantial majority” of BI-LO LLC's assets. It said the assets to be acquired had revenue of over $2 billion last year.

Delhaize said it intends to integrate BI-LO's shops into its Food Lion chain of shops. Food Lion has more than 1,300 stores in 11 states with 74,000 employees.

Mauldin, S.C.-based BI-LO LLC is a privately held company that operates 214 supermarkets in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee and employs around 15,500 people. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in March.

Delhaize said the offer was subject to bankruptcy court approvals and that it hoped to complete a transaction after obtaining a non-appealable sale order from the court.

A representative for BI-LO could not be immediately reached for comment.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

(Stores photographed are in Statesville, NC)


Matt from CLT said...

Can't say I didn't see something like this coming, but I'm a little surprised that it was Delhaize. Guess my MVP card will be getting a little more use in the future...

While I can't see anyone coming in and making a better offer in court, I still think that there could be an opportunity for someone else to come in and cherry-pick some of the duplicate stores:

Lowe's -- might want to expand some more around CLT

Kroger -- who knows if they want to reenter the CLT market

Ingles -- have they ever been in CLT? I see them as a similar fit to Bi-Lo.

Publix -- I'm not going to hold my breath on this one.

Going down the road to upstate SC, I think the majority of stores there will be retained, as Food Lion has a fairly small presence there.

Actually, I think I'm in the minority that I don't mind shopping at Food Lion. I'll miss Bi-Lo, though. I just pray that we don't end up like Atlanta -- if you don't shop at Kroger or Publix, you're going to starve.

(Okay, so I exaggerate a little.)

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