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Sweetbay sale expected by 4th quarter

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Bi-Lo will acquire 72 Sweetbay stores, plus leases for 10 prior Sweetbay locations

By PENNY FLETCHER

Following internal rumors and some media reports that Sweetbay stores have been sold, it’s not happening anytime soon.

As of Sept. 19, the process was still in the regulatory stages with the Federal Trade Commission, according to spokespersons from both Bi-Lo Holdings, LLC — the intended buyer — and Sweetbay’s home offices in Tampa.

On May 28, Bi-Lo Holdings, LLC, owner of Winn Dixie grocery stores and several other chains, subject to regulatory approval, announced plans to buy 72 Sweetbay stores, as well as Harveys and Reid’s stores, all of which are part of the Delhaize America group, said Brian Wright, vice president of communications for Bi-Lo in a telephone interview Sept. 18.

“Subject to regulatory review and approval, Bi-Lo will acquire 72 Sweetbay stores, plus leases for 10 prior Sweetbay locations, 72 Harveys stores and 11 Reid’s, totaling 165 stores with approximately 10,000 employees in the southeastern United States,” Wright said.

Bi-Lo is the owner of Winn-Dixie stores, said Randall Onstead, president/CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings.

“The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013 and is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976,” Onstead said in a press release issued in June.

Bi-Lo was founded in 1961 and is headquartered in Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, Sweetbay has closed 33 Florida stores since January, and plans to close more stores until it has 72 in Florida, according to a release printed by spokeswoman Nicole LeBeau in Sweetbay’s Tampa office.

No stores in the coverage area of The Observer News or The Current are on the list of closings, which reportedly will displace 2,000 employees.

The stores closed (or closing) are located in Tampa, Bradenton, Sarasota, Plant City, Lakeland, Spring Hill, Fort Myers and Naples.

The total buyout of the three chains, Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s, will cost Bi-Lo approximately $265 million, Wright said.

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