Monday, December 19, 2011

Bi-Lo merges with Winn-Dixie supermarket chain

Greenville, S.C.-based Bi-Lo has agreed to acquire and merge with Winn-Dixie stores, a deal valued at $560 million.

Bi-Lo, which announced the move Monday morning, has been trying to re-invent itself since exiting bankruptcy in spring 2010. The chain currently operates 207 supermarkets, including a dozen or so in the Charlotte market.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie is a larger chain by store count, with 480 retail stores. The chain was founded in 1925, and employs about 48,000 people.

The companies said Monday that they don't know where the combined company's headquarters will be located. They also said that they don't expect to close any stores, and that the combined company will operate 690 supermarkets with about 63,000 employees.

So does the deal mean the end of the Bi-Lo or Winn-Dixie brand? As of now, the companies are saying that they'll continue to operate both banners, with Winn-Dixie functioning as a privately-held, wholly-owned subsidiary.

Like Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie is a legacy supermarket chain that struggled to find its way in the new era of Wal-Mart Supercenters and Whole Foods organic grocers. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2005, and though it has emerged, sales have continued to slump. Last year, Winn-Dixie announced it was closing 30 stores and laying off more than 2,000 workers as its troubles continued.

Bi-Lo was reported to be up for sale itself last year. The company was bought in 2005 by Lone Star Funds, a Dallas-baserd firm that specializes in buying up distressed companies. After coming out of bankruptcy, heavy-hitters Kroger and Publix were said to be interested in the chain, but nothing came of the talks.

Winn-Dixie shareholders still have to vote on the deal with Bi-Lo, which is expected to close in 60 to 120 days. They're unlikely to say no, as the $9.50-a-share price represents a 75 percent premium to Winn-Dixie stock's closing price on Friday.

Winn-Dixie's move "behind the curtain" into a private company will likely help it shed costs even more quickly. Winn-Dixie and Bi-Lo don't operate any overlapping stores, the companies said.

The new, nearly-700 store chain will have stores in the Carolinas, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. They'll be going head-to-head with Publix, Salisbury-based Food Lion and  Charlotte-based Harris-Teeter.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's the matter Food Lion doesn't merit any part of this evaluation? What the industry is a breath of fresh air and honest appraisal of food & comestible sales. No matter, W-D was famously bankrupted in NC, Bi-Lo couldn't find their funk, assinine Food Lion leaves 'em in the dust as Harris-Teeter circles. Are Publix or Kroger wishful thinking in NC?

Anonymous said...

I just wish Wegmans would buy them.

Wiley Coyote said...

All of the old original Winn Dixie family members have passed on, the last in the past few months. Also, other payouts from Winn Dixie's bankruptcy were resolved about the same time.

I would look for the WD banners to change to Bi-Lo and the HQ to remain in Mauldin.

WashuOtaku said...

Anonymous@9:48am - Publix is inching slowely towards Charlotte, they plan to open stores in Indian Land and Tega Cay soon (what I've read online at least). Kroger has been retreating the Carolinas for years now, they only exist in the Raleigh-Durham area now, when it was only twenty years ago they had stores all over both states.

Anonymous said...

Bi-lo has been going down hill ever since Ahold sold them off.

There are a few chains that I think would do well here - Giant (PA), Publix and maybe even Ingles.

Anonymous said...

Much to the chagrin of the HT folks over in Matthews (and despite their best efforts of the last 20 years), Publix is coming. Site work on the Indian Land location has started - they've already cleared the land and begun grading. According to the sign, Fall 2012 is opening date for Publix. If you've ever wondered why there are a gozillion HT's in Southeast Charlotte (some within a stone's throw of each other), it's because they have been gobbling up premium sites in the area for 20 years trying to stave off Publix. As a former longtime HT emloyee I can tell you it is all we ever heard about.

Anonymous said...

To me HT will always be better than Publix, Publix is overrated. I've been to Publix(s) in its home market of Florida. As for Bi-Lo, I just don't get it, the pricing is good or on par with Food Lion, but it's staves to be another HT with Super Bi-Lo. Its design and layout is outdated, however its customer loyalty program is on par with HT more or less.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for Publix. They will bring a new touch to the area. Grew up in Florida and they are a good chain with quality brands. HT should be concerned for sure, however they probably have a large following, but it's nice to have variety in grocery shopping.

Anonymous said...

As a former Charlottean and longtime patron of Harris Teeter, I'd like to share my experience of shopping at Publix now on a regular basis in the Tampa Bay area.

Both HT and Publix offer pleasant shopping experiences with clean, brightly-lit stores, with wide aisles and a good assortment of items. Because a sizable number of Europeans visit Florida, Publix stores here have a pretty extensive selection of imported goods (chocolates, biscuits, crackers, canned soups, etc).

The biggest differences I've noticed: Publix does not offer double or triple coupons (as HT does with its shopper loyalty card), and Publix has a line of hormone-free meat and poultry called GreenWise.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that everyone start growing they're own vegetables. Why do we need to buy tomatoes from California when we can grow them in our back yard or deck or even at a community garden. GROW LOCAL BUY LOCAL GROW IN YOUR OWN BACK YARD.

george said...

After Jim Ready's wife slipped in a puddle of milk at Cornelius Harris-Teeter and died. Harris-Teeter as much as told Ready to get lost. Example of reverse slip & fall bonanza. Harris-Teeter shame.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 11:22...

uhh because the majority of people in our area don't have a greenhouse?

uhh because from about October to about April you can't grow tomatoes here?

Kingward said...

Two losers are combining to lose together. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Kingward said it best.."Two losers are combining to lose together. Good luck with that."

I shop at Harris Teeter, Lowes Food and Traders Joe's. Winn Dixie and Bi Lo uniting is like two trailer folk eloping. Please, just don't spawn any corporate children.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry Publix lovers you will be getting one in Wesley Chapel taking over the spot where Lowes Foods currently is very soon

Anonymous said...

After living in Charlotte for many years and currently living in Florida for approx 7 years, I still miss HT terribly, and so do many of my friends. Publix is OK, but I really don't get it.....the only thing they have going for them is every location imaginable. That and they seem to only employ overly chatty high school kids - I guess that helps the bottom line.

As to Winn-Dixie - I did a little work there during their bankruptcy in '05 - don't count them out. They have some new high end stores that are stunning, and Florida economy is definitely coming back strong in some areas. Bi-lo is far smaller than WD (200 vs 500 stores) and Lone Star (the private equity owner) is staging their exit. They may do some more consolidation first, but their ultimate goal is to return money to their investors.

Anonymous said...

The trailer park merger..

Anonymous said...

I only shop at Trader Joes (University area) and have done so since the day they opened.

Anonymous said...

Trader Joe's is owned by the parent company that owns Aldi (German Company). Not a bad way to save money but their focus is on private brands. WD held a strong presence in the Carolina's and BI-LO has been a fixture here for years. People in the Southeast need options. Otherwise, it will be Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Sweetbay and Wal-Mart with Lowes and Ingles in pocket areas. It will be nice to have another private company. Harris Teeter is public with Ruddick and Publix is private. Ingles is private, maybe a little too private with some shady stuff going on (SEC investigation a few years back. Lowes is part of a buying group called MDI. Hopefully WD/BI-Lo can carve out a niche and play in this area too!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon @ 10:03am. Bring on the Wegmans!!

Anonymous said...

Brookshire's Out of Tyler, TX should have purchased them! Just kidding.

Anonymous said...

Two mediocre chains merge to form one big mediocre chain?

Anonymous said...

Okease Wegman's - buy them all out!

Anonymous said...

Publix is a joke. They adveritse and snow the weak minded with their Jedi mind tricks. And some are foolish enough to buy it. LOL! There stores are no better than most competitors with OVERRATED service boosted by their advertising pushing this perception. I have some swamp land in Florida for all you Publix lovers. Publix: overpriced and overhyped!

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with Winn Dixie in my area is their prices. Very high and their canned foods can be as much as 3 times higher than Walmart supercenters. The only thing they offer is specials on Meats and you can only afford that if on Sale.

Anonymous said...

Trader Joe's is owned by the parent company that owns Aldi (German Company). Not a bad way to save money but their focus is on private brands. WD held a strong presence in the Carolina's and BI-LO has been a fixture here for years. People in the Southeast need options. Otherwise, it will be Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Sweetbay and Wal-Mart with Lowes and Ingles in pocket areas. It "will be nice to have another private company. Harris Teeter is public with Ruddick and Publix is private. Ingles is private, maybe a little too private with some shady stuff going on (SEC investigation a few years back. Lowes is part of a buying group called MDI. Hopefully WD/BI-Lo can carve out a niche and play in this area too!"

Ingels is a publicly traded company..

Publix is an OTC stock...Technically it is Public...although not highly traded.

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Anonymous said...

The HDQ will be in Jacksonville FL and Winn-Dixie's HDQ IT systems will be used for BI-LO stores once the merger is completed. BI-LO's HDQ and systems are not capable of handling more than a couple of hundred stores.

Anonymous said...

I must say that the merger is a great way for two companies to take back the market. I have been with Winn Dixie for a long time and I can surely tell you that they are here for the long haul. They may have had problems in their past but what company hasn't. Winn Dixie is a true legacy company. They started nearly a hundred years ago and has potential staying power. I think it would be in Bi-Los' best interest to sport the name and transfer over to the WD brand.

Anonymous said...

I think the merger will be a sucess if the merger is managed right by randell onstead and team. Lots of money to be made if winn dixie and bi lo stays on track.

Anonymous said...

BI-LO and Winn-Dixie are both dumb asses and richly deserve each other. They don't know what the hell they're doing so they can both go to hell.