Coborn’s Inc. has signed a purchase agreement to acquire Sullivan’s Foods grocery stores, along with several other retail business units, in northern and central Illinois, marking Coborn’s first expansion into that state. The stores are operated by the Sullivan family and operate under the Sullivan’s Foods banner.
About 800 people work in the organization, which comprises 11 grocery stores, a convenience store/fuel center, three hardware stores, a central office and a limited-assortment warehouse. All employees will be hired by Coborn’s, and the stores will continue to operate under the Sullivan’s Foods banner.
The Sullivan’s locations in the acquisition are the grocery stores in Freeport, Kewanee, Lena, Marengo, Mendota, Morrison, Mt. Morris, Princeton, Savanna, Stockton and Winnebago, Ill.; the corporate office, the warehouse, the Sullivan’s Home and Hardware store, and the Savanna Station convenience store in Savanna; and Sullivan’s Ace Hardware stores in Mendota and Winnebago.
“The Sullivan family has run their family of stores with great care and is a highly respected retailer,” noted Coborn’s Chairman and CEO Chris Coborn. “We look forward to extending the same operating philosophies in these locations that have made us successful for 102 years – investing and training for our people, supporting our communities and investing in our stores to improve the experience for our guests. We look forward to having the entire Sullivan’s team join our team to learn more about their operations and communities.”
Added Coborn, “This is our first entry into the state of Illinois, so we have some things to learn, some added distance to figure out and to onboard their team into our organization,”
Sullivan’s Foods was started in 1967 by John and June Sullivan. The business’ lead wholesaler is Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG), a relationship that will continue after the acquisition by Coborn’s.
“This sale makes perfect sense for our family and for our employees,” said Susie Dauphin, secretary and property manager of Sullivan’s Foods. “Coborn’s has long been a highly respected company, and our family felt perfectly aligned with their values, operational standards, support of the communities they operate in and, most importantly, the company culture and commitment to their employees. We are grateful to all our guests and employees who have helped us build our business over the past five decades. I know our communities and employees are in good hands as we make this transition.”
The transaction is expected to close early next month, subject to customary closing conditions. Coborn’s portfolio of grocery stores will then expand to 77 locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan and Illinois.
St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s currently has nearly 10,000 employees and 66 grocery stores across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois under the Coborn’s, Cash Wise Foods, Marketplace Foods, Hornbacher’s and Tadych’s Marketplace Foods banners, as well as fuel, liquor and pharmacy locations. The company also operates its own central bakery, dry-cleaning facility and grocery distribution center. The company is No. 82 The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. In 2023, Coborn’s was recognized by Progressive Grocer Magazine as one of the Top 10 Regional Grocers in the United States.