Chicago Grocery Exec Said Buying Piggly Wiggly/Wisconsin Parent

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Chicago Grocery Exec Said Buying Piggly Wiggly/Wisconsin Parent

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Paul Butera, chairman of Chicago-based Certified Grocers Midwest Inc. and majority owner/chairman of Certifresh Holdings, is reportedly buying Fresh Brands Inc. based here, which supplies and franchises Piggly Wiggly stores.

Butera recently sent several Milwaukee-area Piggly Wiggly owners an e-mail affirming that he is buying the entire company, according to local press reports. Butera was said to invite store owners to attend a meeting this Thurs., Sept. 27, at Fresh Brands' corporate office, to discuss the deal.

Butera is chairman of Certified Grocers Midwest Inc., a Chicago grocery distributor, and Certifresh Holdings, a holding company created in 2005 for Certified Grocers' acquisition of Fresh Brands.

Butera also owns an Elgin, Ill.-based chain of 10 supermarkets.

Fresh Brands operates some 90 corporate-owned and franchised supermarkets under the Piggly Wiggly banner throughout Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Iowa. Certifresh Holdings, an affiliate of the Chicago-based grocery wholesale cooperative, Certified Grocers Midwest, Inc. -- acquired Fresh Brands, Inc. -- previously a publicly traded company -- last December in a transaction valued at approximately $100 million.

Local observers estimated that Piggly Wiggly holds a 7 percent share of the metro Milwaukee market, and ranks third among area grocers.