NASHVILLE -- The Brussels-based Delhaize Group, the parent company of Food Lion, announced the purchase Tuesday of the Harveys supermarket chain for $26.1 million in cash.

The group will also assume approximately $18 million in accounts payable and other short term liabilities.

Two of the company's principals will retain their positions: Benny Ensley will continue to serve as Harveys' chief operating officer and current chairman and CEO J.H. Harvey Jr. will continue in a senior executive capacity.

"Nashville will remain the headquarters for Harveys," said Jeff Lowrance, corporate communications manager for Food Lion LLC. "The name will stay the same and customers should see few if any changes."

Lowrance said there are no plans at this time to close any of the 43 supermarkets, located in central and south Georgia and Tallahassee, Fla. When asked about the future location of Harveys on Bemiss Road, Lowrance said that will be decided at closing, scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2003.

"Delhaize is always looking for viable growth opportunities," he said.

Harveys is operated by the J.H. Harvey Co., which was founded in 1950. The chain will be the fourth U.S. banner for the Belgian international food retailer, which also owns Food Lion, Hannaford and Kash 'n Karry stores.

According to Delhaize, Harveys will continue to operate as a separate organization, but will receive strategic support and assistance from Food Lion, based in Salisbury, N.C. No employee layoffs are planned.

In a press release statement, Rick Anicetti, president and CEO of Food Lion and executive vice president of Delhaize Group said, "We are delighted to welcome Harveys to the Delhaize family. Harveys enjoys tremendous customer loyalty by providing superb customer service, attention to individual customer needs,

and a selection of quality products matching the tastes of the local communities Harveys serves. We look forward to a profitable relationship and opportunities to share best practices."

No one from Harveys corporate office was available to comment on the acquisition.

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