Future of Winn-Dixie in doubt

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 22, 2005

Despite earlier reports from a Montgomery television station, Greenville's Winn-Dixie store is not on the list of those that will be sold , according to the company's Web site.

Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. this week announced that, following a successful auction on Monday, it had reached an agreement to sell 102 stores to 30 purchasers, the substantial majority of which intend to operate these locations as food and beverage stores.

With that news, WSFA reported Wednesday night that Greenville and five other stores had been part of the 102 stores that Winn-Dixie had reached agreement to sell.

However, a spokesman for Winn-Dixie confirmed Thursday that the Greenville store was not included in the sale and that only two stores in Montgomery were being sold to Greg Calhoun of Calhoun Super Foods.

These stores are part of the 326 locations that the company previously announced it intends to sell or close in conjunction with its new "store footprint" strategy.

On June 21, 2005, Winn-Dixie reported that it was taking action to strengthen its performance and achieve long-term profitability by focusing on its strongest markets and reducing the size of its store base from 913 stores in the U.S. and the Bahamas to 587 stores.

The Greenville store is one that will close, but it has not, so far, been sold to a purchaser that plans to keep it open, the company's Web site reported Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Winn-Dixie announced that it had reached a preliminary agreement to sell a total of 79 stores to 20 potential buyers, all of which intend to operate these stores on an ongoing basis. The additional stores and buyer are the result of an auction held in New York on July 18. A list of the 102 stores for which the company has entered into sales agreements is available at www.winn-dixie.com.

Winn-Dixie is seeking court authorization to conduct store-closing sales at the locations that will not be sold as food and beverage stores. Subject to court approval, the company anticipates that these sales would begin on or about Aug. 1, 2005, and be completed in early to mid-September. An auction for the sale of the leases at these locations has been scheduled for Aug. 9, with expressions of interest from potential bidders due by Aug. 2.

The asset purchase agreements for the 102 stores announced today are subject to Bankruptcy Court approval. In addition, agreements with two of the buyers, for a total of 23 stores, are subject to certain contingencies.

Winn-Dixie employees have been told not to discuss the situation with the media, as one current employee said, but that there had been potential buyers visiting the Greenville store since the announcement was made to close.