Brown & Cole Exits Chapter 11

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Brown & Cole Exits Chapter 11

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Brown & Cole Stores LLC here said it has exited Chapter 11 following a successful confirmation hearing for its reorganization plan.

The retailer, which operates 20 Food Pavilion and Cost Cutter supermarkets in Washington State, had initiated a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding November 2006 to reorganize its finances aiming at reaching four goals set by president and c.e.o. Craig Cole:
- Keeping a core set of stores intact as an operating company, so suppliers would have an on-going business opportunity;
- Protecting living wage jobs and benefits for employees;
- Improving stores to increase competitiveness and customer satisfaction;
- Maintaining the company's local community focus.

According to Cole, the company attained each of these goals.

"We are one of only a handful of retail companies who have successfully navigated the challenging bankruptcy process, and emerged mostly intact," Cole said. "It's kind of like making lemonade out of lemons."

Integral to hitting these goals were two executives brought into the company in early 2006 to help turn the company around: Kevin Weatherill, who heads up operations and marketing, and Ron Stevens, runs of finance and accounting.

Hancock Park Associates of Los Angeles, a private equity investment firm, purchased majority shareholder status in Brown & Cole with a $43 million investment.

"Hancock Park is a rational and ethical investor which focuses on building long-term value," said Cole, who added that since the company filed for Chapter 11, its sales and customer counts have been strong, which made investing in the company an attractive proposition for Hancock Park.

"We now have the solid financial backing to strengthen and anchor the business for years to come, so that we can continue to be a good employer, a good customer to our suppliers, and a good servant of our communities," Cole said. "Many families have depended on us, and we did our best not to let them down."