Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

May 31, 2013

Bi-Lo makes deal to buy Harveys

Store employees to keep jobs

VALDOSTA — Harveys Supermarkets will be included as part of a $265 million deal between Bi-Lo and the Delhaize Group, according to media reports this week.

Delhaize is the parent company of Food Lion which made a deal to sell Harveys, Sweetbay and Reid's stores to Bi-Lo.

Bi-Lo will take over 155 stores, as well as leases for 10 former Sweetbay locations. The sale will reportedly leave the Belgian Delhaize with Food Lion, Bottom Dollar Food and Hannaford stores in the U.S.

Bi-Lo will reportedly keep all store-level Harveys, Reid's and Sweetbay employees, company spokespersons have told the media.

While Food Lion and Delhaize are based in Salisbury, N.C., Harveys has maintained its Nashville, Ga., headquarters, which it had established for decades prior to its acquisition by Food Lion several years ago. In an interesting twist, once Food Lion acquired Harveys, all South Georgia Food Lions became Harveys Supermarkets.

Harveys representatives were not available Thursday night for comment.

“After the ownership transfer, we will review our corporate structure where specific or partial support of these banners exist in order to remain efficient or to reinvest resources in Food Lion, Bottom Dollar Food and Hannaford,” said Christy Phillips-Brown, a Delhaize America spokeswoman.

“We believe this transaction represents a significant move

towards simplifying our business and will allow for even greater focus at Delhaize America,” Delhaize Group CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers said in a statement. “The transaction will further increase the financial flexibility required to execute our strategic priorities.”

In 2012, the 165 stores included in the transaction generated revenues of about $1.8 billion.

The sale comes on the heels of Beckers’ announcement that he plans to retire by year’s end. Delhaize America laid off about 350 corporate employees earlier this year as part of a continuing reorganization that started in December with the ouster of Cathy Green Burns as Food Lion president.

In January, Delhaize America closed 33 Sweetbay stores in Florida, as well as eight underperforming Food Lion stores in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. Bottom Dollar Food, based in Salisbury, closed three stores in the Philadelphia area.

In 2012, Food Lion closed 113 underperforming stores and pulled out of Florida. Delhaize America also shut down the Bloom brand.

This year, Delhaize Group reported revenue growth of 2.1 percent for the first quarter, comparable store sales growth of 1.9 percent in the U.S. and 2.4 percent in Belgium and underlying operating margin of 3.9 percent. The group’s increase in operating profit was the first in six quarters, raising hopes that cost-cutting measures and an overhaul of Food Lion stores are paying off.

More than 2,000 people work at Food Lion headquarters. Food Lion has 1,117 stores with 505 locations in North Carolina.

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