BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Belle Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, citing slowing sales and issues with creditors, including C&S Wholesale Grocers, the supplier whose former corporate stores founded the basis of the chain.
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Belle Foods was formed a year ago by Bill White and his son Jeff, who purchased 57 former Southern Family markets stores from C&S. Many of those stores – located in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi – formerly comprised the defunct Bruno’s chain.
Bill White told SN in a recent interview that sales had performed below expectations during the first half of the year as shoppers in poor communities cut back on spending, particularly early in the year as they adjusted to higher payroll taxes.
Belle said it had retained The Food Partners as its financial advisor. That group helped to assemble Belle Foods’ 2012 acquisition of C&S’s Southern Family chain.
Read more: Belle Shifts to More Part-Timers
Belle said it owed Southern Family $28 million, consisting of a $4 million outstanding term loan and a $24 million revolving loan. Belle’s obligations to Southern Family are secured by the majority of its assets.
Separately, Belle is obligated to C&S for a $900,000 pension withdrawal liability note and $5.1 million in accounts payable.
Belle owes approximately $8 million to trade creditors. Its largest unsecured creditors are Barber’s Dairy, Coca-Cola Bottling, Frito-Lay, Flowers Baking, and Pepsi Cola Bottling.
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