By Liz Segrist
Published Sept. 12, 2013
Updated: Sept., 13, 2013 at 10:57 a.m.
Charleston-based Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. announced plans Thursday to sell 29 stores in total.
Twenty-two stores are being sold to Bi-Lo Holdings, 16 of which are in South Carolina, and seven stores are being sold to Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc., one of which is still under construction on the Isle of Palms.
“This really reflects that there’s been a dramatic acceleration of M&A activity in the grocery industry, particularly in the last eight to nine months. ... M&A activities are at unprecedented levels in our industry right now,” said Christopher Ibsen, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.’s corporate affairs director.
Piggly Wiggly, a private, employee-owned company, did not disclose financial terms of the transactions. Bi-Lo’s acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter; Harris Teeter’s transaction is expected to be completed in October.
Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., a franchise of Piggly Wiggly, which is owned by Keene, N.H.-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, operates roughly 100 stores in South Carolina and Georgia. After the acquisitions, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. will own about 30 stores in South Carolina and coastal Georgia. Its other 30 stores will continue to operate through independently owned franchises.
Some of the remaining stores in the Charleston market will stay open, including in North Charleston, Hollywood, Moncks Corner, Summerville and St. George, although a specific number was not given at press time.
The company is neither looking to sell any other stores at this time, nor is it facing bankruptcy, Ibsen said.
“We have no concern about bankruptcy in the future,” Ibsen said. “This transaction strengthens our company a great deal. ... We’re pleased that these transactions have taken shape.”
Bi-Lo Holdings is the parent company of the Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie grocery store chains, with 686 grocery stores in eight Southeastern states. Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. operates in eight states primarily in the Southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States and the District of Columbia. It recently entered into an agreement to be purchased by Kroger Co.
“The departure of employees and stores from the Piggly Wiggly team will be acutely felt, but we know that Bi-Lo Holdings will benefit from these outstanding folks,” David Schools, president and CEO of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., said in a news release. “We are glad that employees will have the opportunity to work for Bi-Lo Holdings, and guests will continue to be served by the familiar people who have been the backbone of these stores for years.”
The 22 stores acquired by Bi-Lo will be rebranded as Bi-Lo stores, and roughly 1,200 employees will be affected.
“We look forward to welcoming these new associates to the Bi-Lo Holdings family and to building on the strength of these stores,” Randall Onstead, president and CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings, said in a news release. “We will continue to fine-tune our company and network of stores so that we can reinvest in what matters most for our customers.”
Harris Teeter plans to remodel and expand several of the locations it is acquiring. They will be rebranded as Harris Teeter stores.
Harris Teeter plans to close the acquired stores for three to four days for stocking and training of employees. The pharmacies at the acquired stores will remain open throughout the transition.
“Piggly Wiggly has a long tradition of operating customer-friendly stores in Charleston. These store locations and the dedicated associates who work in them make this an especially attractive transaction for Harris Teeter,” said Thomas W. Dickson, Harris Teeter board chairman and CEO, in a news release.
The Piggly Wiggly stores being sold to Bi-Lo are:
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The Piggly Wiggly stores being sold to Harris Teeter are:
King & Spalding LLP is acting as legal adviser to Bi-Lo Holdings. Surry Investment Advisors LLC acted as financial adviser to Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., and Moore & Van Allen PLLC is acting as legal adviser.
Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.
Subscribe to the Charleston Regional Business Journal to read the full story in the Sept. 23 issue.