Bi-Lo Buys Sweetbay And Harveys Chains From Delhaize

Bi-Lo will be picking up three southeastern U.S. grocery chains from their Belgian owner, Delhaize, for $265 million. The Harveys, Reid's and Sweetbay chains—but not Sweetbay's distribution center—will come under Bi-Lo's control when the deal closes, which should be by the end of 2013, the companies said on Tuesday (May 28).

Bi-Lo, which already operates Winn-Dixie and Bi-Lo supermarkets, will acquire 72 Harveys stores, 11 Reid's stores and 72 Sweetbay stores, along with leases for 10 former Sweetbay locations, plus about 10,000 employees. The deal will require antitrust approval and will boost Bi-Lo's size from 686 to about 850 stores—about four times Bi-Lo's size before it acquired Winn-Dixie in March 2012.

The deal slims down Delhaize's U.S. holdings to the Food Lion, Hannaford and Bottom Dollar grocery chains.

While it's hard to say exactly how fast this deal was done, Reuters reported only last Thursday (May 23) that Delhaize had hired Lazard to help it sell the businesses. That suggests there's still a healthy demand for regional grocery chains, at least if the deal is right.

The sale also comes just weeks after the May 8 announcement that Delhaize CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers will be stepping down. Beckers built up Delhaize's U.S. chains during his 14-year tenure, to the point that in 2012 they represented about 65 percent of Delhaize's total sales.

For more:

- See this Businessweek story

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