Bi-Lo has sold 29 of its Chattanooga, Tennessee-area stores.
According to a Times Free Press article, the locations have been sold to Food City, a subsidiary of K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. The move will expand Food City’s footprint in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Food City currently operates 104 supermarkets in Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.
"It's a real opportunity we think," Steven C. Smith, Chief Executive of K-VA-T Food Stores Inc., said, according to Times Free Press. Food City already has substantial presence in Knoxville, Tennessee, with room to fill in with new stores between it and the Scenic City, Smith said. "That gives us a lot of growth opportunities."
He also added that the chain has plans to invest about $40 million to $50 million over the next three to five years in the stores, in the people, in the product, and probably equally as important, in the price the consumers will see."
Jesse Lewis, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Food City, said the chain often buys locally grown produce and hold either the number one or number two share in the markets it does business in. "We put a lot of money into local farmers' pockets, and we bring a fresh product to our customers," Lewis said, according to Times Free Press.
With plans to enhance a variety of local units, as well as offer sharp price points on goods, Smith emphasized that no stores will be closed and that Food City will hire a majority of the current 2,000 Bi-Lo employees. He added that employee pay and benefits are comparable with Bi-Lo, and the chain plans to honor the individual worker's years of service, stating that if “they've been there 30 years, they'll be a 30-year Food City associate as well.”
"We believe we have identified a strong partner to ensure these 29 stores and our associates are positioned for continued success under another reputable regional brand," Ian McLeod, Chief Executive of Southeastern Grocers, parent company of Bi-Lo, said in a statement, according to the report. He also commented that this was not an easy decision, as Bi-Lo has been rooted in the region for more than 20 years.
The acquisition deal is expected to close by the fall, according to the report, though neither wished to disclose the purchase price.
Rebranding and revamping of the existing Bi-Lo supermarkets are planned for late August through early October.