Bi-Lo purchasing Winn-Dixie chain

Published 10:20 am Friday, December 30, 2011

The marquee in front of the Winn-Dixie shopping center seems to say it all as it proclaims, “We’re still the same, friendly folks.”

Local store director, Claire Craddock declined to make any personal comment on the pending $430 million sale of the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain to Bi-Lo, a Geenville, S.C.-based grocery corporation. She instead referred any questions to corporate headquarters. Calls to that number had not been returned, as of press time.

However, according to information published Dec. 19 in USA Today, The Washington Post and Fox Business News, the companies are quoted as saying that currently no store closings are expected and that the Winn-Dixie name will remain, because of its strong brand recognition.

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Winn-Dixie has about 46,000 employees in 480 grocery locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Its corporate headquarters is Jacksonville, Fla.

Bi-Lo has 207 supermarkets, primarily in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. As the two combine, there will be approximately 690 stores and 63,000 workers in eight states in the southern U.S.

Bi-Lo is a privately held company, and once the deal is complete, Winn-Dixie will become a privately held subsidiary of Bi-Lo, and removed from the NASDAQ.

Winn-Dixie has struggled in recent years. It has been reorganizing its operations after seeking bankruptcy protection in 2005. The sale has reportedly been approved by the Winn-Dixie Board of Directors, and is expected to close in 60 to 120 days.