Bi-Lo, Delhaize Get FTC Green Light for Merger
Bi-Lo Holdings LLC and Delhaize Group have received approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to proceed with a deal in which Bi-Lo will acquire substantially all of the stores in the Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s supermarket chains from Delhaize.
Under a consent order accepted by the FTC for public comment on Feb. 25, Bi-Lo agreed to divest 12 Delhaize America stores in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and Delhaize agreed to retain two further stores in Hampton, S.C., and Americus, Ga., and convert them to the Food Lion banner. The order is subject to final approval by the FTC after the close of a 30-day comment period.
The purchasers of the divested stores are Rowe’s IGA Supermarkets, Homeland, Food Giant Supermarkets and W. Lee Flowers and Co.
“We have been preparing for the integration of the Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s banners and store associates for many months and are delighted to now move forward and welcome them to the Bi-Lo Holdings family,” said R. Randall Onstead, president and CEO of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Bi-Lo, parent conpany of the Southeast regional Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie chains.
“As we complete the transition process, we share our deepest appreciation for [Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid´s associates’] many contributions and service to our customers during their tenure with our company," noted Frans Mueller, CEO of Brussels-based Delhaize, which operates in eight countries on three continents.
Bi-Lo first revealed the deal in late May 2013. Last October, the company said it would continue the Harveys banner but retire the Sweetbay and Reid's names after the transaction closed, with Sweetbay stores becoming Winn-Dixie locations and Reid's supermarkets converting to the Bi-Lo banner. According to Bi-Lo, this would be done to reduce overlapping footprints.
Following news of the merger approval, Bi-Lo said it would need to close eight of the acquired Delhaize stores and five Winn-Dixie/Bi-Lo stores, all in Florida and South Carolina, because of what the company called "close geopraphic proximity." Onstead added that affected employees would have the opportunity to apply for open positions at nearby stores.