Back in 2009, while Bi-Lo was operating under protection of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Delhaize’s Food Lion chain made an offer to buy the then-214-store Bi-Lo chain for $425 million in cash. Sources at the time told SN that Food Lion intended to use Bi-Lo to strengthen its brands — including Harveys and Reid’s stores that were direct Bi-Lo competitors in some markets.
The offer, however, was contingent upon a number of conditions and ultimately was scuttled when the Bi-Lo’s creditors advanced a competing plan of reorganization.
Delhaize officials at the time said they would continue to look at Bi-Lo as a potential acquisition, but Bi-Lo, it turned out, had its own plans.
Read more: New Owners in the Sweetbay Saga
Emerging from Chapter 11 in 2010 behind new investment from its private equity owners, Bi-Lo was having success behind a “back-to-basics” strategy emphasizing price and promotions, and rode the momentum into last year’s surprise acquisition of Winn-Dixie Stores, itself recovering from a stay in Chapter 11.
Meanwhile in Florida, Sweetbay came to life while neighboring Winn-Dixie was in the throes of bankruptcy, but never achieved the desired size and scale. After it closed 33 stores this winter it went onto the selling block along with Harveys and Reid’s and, now, into the arms of a resurgent Bi-Lo.
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