Laurens County, South Carolina – It was announced on Wednesday that North Carolina-based Food Lion is purchasing 62 BI-LO Stores or Harvey’s Supermarkets from its parent company, Southeastern Grocers (SEG).
On Friday, a spokesman from SEG said the company doesn’t plan store closings in Clinton, Laurens and other locations at this point but hopes that BI-LO can be sold to other grocery companies, and a financial advisory company will assist.
“Southeastern Grocers is not closing any store locations as part of the transaction with Food Lion,” said Southeastern Grocers spokesperson Zachary Bingham. “Following the successful completion of the Food Lion transaction, Southeastern Grocers will pursue strategic options, including potential transactions, for the remaining (61) BI-LO stores and (2) additional Harveys stores.”
According to a release on the SEG website, financial advisory company, “PJ Solomon is managing the Company’s sale process for the remaining BI-LO stores.”
Bingham said, however, that will not occur right away.
While the fate of the local grocery stores has not yet been determined, what is happening quickly is the closing of the chain’s 57 pharmacies.
“All BI-LO pharmacies are being divested to Walgreens and CVS,” Bingham said, “and this transaction does involve the BI-LO pharmacy in the store at 1500 Western Square Drive (in Laurens).”
But the stores will still be open for business for now.
“In the interim they will remain open and continue to operate normally,” Bingham said. “We are very early in this process.”
A press release on Wednesday had initially explained that Food Lion had purchased the 62 stores from SEG as part of the Florida-based company’s plan to shut down the BI-LO chain. Stores were sold in the counties surrounding Laurens County. However, unsold in the deal were those in Laurens, Clinton, the Highway 72 store in Greenwood, Union, Woodruff, and the Highway 14 Simpsonville store. Now SEG will attempt to sell the others.
According to the SEG release, President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Hucker said there are no guarantees that the company’s ongoing changes will be easy.
“The successful execution of our long-term transformation strategy may at times require difficult decisions,” Hucker said. “These actions will facilitate greater investment in our remaining footprint so we can continue to provide an exceptional shopping experience our customers can always count on.”
SEG, which is based in Jacksonville, Fla., also owns Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores in addition to the BI-LO chain.
According to a Proogressivegrocer.com news story, within a week of announcing the sale of the 62 stores, SEG had announced the addition of eight new Winn-Dixie stores in Florida. One of them will be located in a Jacksonville community nearing food desert status.
For the Upstate South Carolina stores which were included in the Food Lion transaction, transition to the Food Lion brand will begin between January and April 2020. Among the stores which will transition to Food Lion are BI-LO stores in Greenwood, Pelzer, Prosperity, Saluda, Greenville County stores such as Fountain Inn, two each in Simpsonville and Greenville, and others in Spartanburg County.