The pending sale of Sweetbay to Bi-Lo Holdings represents the beginning of yet another tumultuous chapter for the grocery founded by an Italian fruit vendor in 1947. Following are highlights in the history of Sweetbay, known also as Kash n’ Karry, Tampa Wholesale and Big Barn, culled from company history and SN’s archives:
Italian immigrant Salvatore Greco sells fruits and vegetables on the streets of Tampa.
Greco and his wife open their first grocery store, known as Big Barn, in Plant City, Fla. The store eventually grows into a nine-store operation known as Tampa Wholesale.
Tampa Wholesale adopts a new name: Kash n’ Karry.
The chain grows to more than 50 stores and No. 1 grocery share in Tampa’s Hillsborough County, boosted in part by acquisitions of several former A&P stores in the area.
Kash n’ Karry’s family owners sell to California retailer Lucky Stores for $26.8 million. A period of rapid growth follows.
After Lucky is acquired by American Stores, Kash n’ Karry is sold to its managers in a $305 million leveraged buyout funded by Gibbons Green, a predecessor to Leonard Green & Partners. The chain acquires 24 Florida Choice stores from Kroger.
Leonard Green becomes controlling stakeholder.
Following the closure of 17 stores over the course of a year, debt-laden Kash n’ Karry files a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and emerges in 1995 as a publically traded company.
Read more: New Owners in the Sweetbay Saga
Delhaize’s Food Lion chain acquires Kash n’ Karry for $341 million.
Delhaize acquires Hannaford Bros.; its executives would play a role in refashioning Kash n’ Karry.
Delhaize closes 34 Kash n’ Karry stores; introduces the Sweetbay banner, emphasizing service, quality and local selections.
Last Kash n’ Karry store converted to Sweetbay. The chain operates 105 stores.
Sweetbay closes 33 underperforming stores; in May, announces sale to Bi-Lo Holdings, along with Harveys and Reid’s stores, for $265 million.
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