FLEMING AIDS H.G HILL CHAIN TRANSFER

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fleming Cos. here is facilitating the transfer of ownership of the H.G. Hill Food Stores chain in Nashville, Tennessee to local independent owner-operators.Various independents will acquire parts of the chain from H.G. Hill Company and lease the land and buildings for store units from H.G. Hill Realty Company, a separate business owned by H.G. Hill Company. These independents will

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fleming Cos. here is facilitating the transfer of ownership of the H.G. Hill Food Stores chain in Nashville, Tennessee to local independent owner-operators.

Various independents will acquire parts of the chain from H.G. Hill Company and lease the land and buildings for store units from H.G. Hill Realty Company, a separate business owned by H.G. Hill Company. These independents will retain the H.G. Hill banner on the new stores. Fleming said independents involved in the transactions now operate under banners including Bi-Rise, Piggly Wiggly and White House Foods.

As reported, the H.G. Hill stores, which were previously self-distributing, will be supplied by Fleming.

"These 14 stores are being owned and operated by these independent retailers," said Shane Boyd, a spokesman for Fleming. "They are going to both own and manage them," he added.

The letters of intent, signed by Fleming and the new owner-operators are subject to a definitive agreement between Fleming and H.G. Hill Food Stores, which is being finalized.

Boyd told SN that Fleming also has a letter of intent to lease the [200,000-square-foot H.G. Hill] warehouse under a separate agreement from the deal on the stores. The warehouse is to be used for outside storage and not operated as a distribution center per say, he added. The letter of intent is also subject to the definitive agreement.

When the deal is complete, Ashley Caldwell, director of community relations for H.G. Hill Food Stores, will join Fleming as director of the wholesaler's H.G. Hill Food Stores advertising and marketing group. The owner-operators are expected to take over their new operations by late April.

Fleming will supply all the stores from the wholesaler's 700,000-square-foot distribution center in Goodlettesville, Tenn. As reported, the new supply agreement will boost Fleming's supply business by $75 million dollars.

According to Caldwell, with the exception of two H.G. Hill stores, which are to be taken over by former president of the H.G. Hill Food Stores chain, Wentworth Caldwell Jr., all of the new owner-operators have at least one store already supplied by Fleming in the Nashville area.

The two operations obtained by Caldwell Jr. are located at Belle Meade and Green Hills. There is construction planned at those locations and the takeover of these operations by Caldwell Jr. avoids the potential disruption of business for other owner-operators, said Caldwell. She added that these locations are also the most profitable stores in the chain.