Bi-Lo to Close Two Weak Stores in Tenn.; Publix in Talks to Buy

MAULDIN, S.C. -- Bi-Lo is closing two low-performing supermarkets in Murfreesboro. Tenn., a city just outside of Nashville, by the end of the year, the retailer said earlier this week. The potential buyer of the stores appears to be Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets, which is reportedly in talks to take over the stores as it expands its presence in middle Tennessee.

Bi-Lo officials explained the reason behind the decision, noting that Murfreesboro is not in one of the chain's core markets. "Last year we announced our strategic plan to focus our resources on core markets within our trade area. It is a difficult decision to close a store, but in the long term, maintaining our focus will strengthen our business," said John Symons, e.v.p. of store operations, in a statement.

According to Symons, Bi-Lo employees will be given an opportunity to relocate to other stores.

Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid was quoted in a local report saying that the company is in negotiations with Bi-Lo to purchase the locations, but that the deal has not closed.

Bi-Lo operates more than 300 supermarkets under the Bi-Lo, Bruno's, Food World, and Food Max banners.

Publix doesn't currently have any stores in Murfreesboro, but the company has said it's planning to initially open two stores there.
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