Bi-Lo strikes $265M deal with Delhaize


JACKSONVILLE -- One or all three Manatee County Sweetbay stores closed in February could be resurrected as part of a deal announced this week.

Bi-Lo Holdings LLC plans to buy Delhaize Group's Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid's grocery store chains for $265 million in cash.

The deal includes 72 Sweetbay and Harveys sites each, and 11 Reid's stores.

Bi-Lo Holdings will also acquire leases for 10 former Sweetbay locations.

Closed Manatee County Sweetbay grocery stores include 5201 33rd St. E., 8750 State Road 70 E. and 3410 U.S. 301 in Ellenton.

A Sarasota store at 501 N. Beneva Road also closed.

Delhaize will retain Sweetbay's distribution center in Plant City.

Bi-Lo bought the Winn-Dixie Supermarket chain in 2011 for $560 million. Before the acquisition, Winn-Dixie closed its store at State Road 70 and Lockwood Ridge Road.

Bradenton is still home to three Winn-Dixie grocery stores.

Whether the company will keep the Sweetbay name is still to be decided.

Brian Wright, senior director of communications for Winn-Dixie, said many details must be worked out, including banner names for the stores.

"We will provide updates, including decisions related to banner names, as we move closer to completing this transaction," Wright said.

The 165 stores included in the transaction generated about $1.8 billion in

2012 revenue. The acquisitions employ 10,000 people throughout the southeastern United States.

Delhaize, based in Belgium, said the sale is a significant move toward simplifying its business and provides financial flexibility to pursue strategic priorities.

The deal will also help Bi-Lo, which owns the Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie grocery chains and is the ninth-largest U.S. grocery store chain, reach more customers. The privately held Jacksonville company has 686 Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie stores in the Southeast.

The transaction, subject to antitrust approval, is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Until the transaction is complete, Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid's will continue to operate independently from Bi-Lo Holdings and its subsidiaries.

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