Greenbax Enterprises, the privately-held parent company of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., has asked shareholders to approval a liquidation and dissolution of the company.
C&S Wholesale Grocers is purchasing the Charleston, S.C.-based Piggly Wiggly Carolina's wholesale operation for $9.3 million, with an anticipated close set for Oct. 20. The wholesale operation includes services from the corporate offices, including IT support, accounting, marketing and the customer loyalty program. “C&S is essentially purchasing the engine behind the operation,” said Christy Boudolf, senior director of marketing and advertising for Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.
C&S, which has owned the Piggly Wiggly name for years, will not take ownership of any store but will continue to act as the stores’ wholesale supplier, according to Boudolf.
Piggly Wiggly Carolina operated 30 independently-owned franchised stores and 19 corporate stores. The franchised stores will retain the Piggly Wiggly banner, while the 19 corporate stores will be sold to local operators or ownership groups. The company has verbal commitments for 17 of the stores to be purchased “by individuals or groups involved with Piggly Wiggly,” said Boudolf, adding that the stores will transition to new ownership by the end of the year and will continue to be supplied by C&S Wholesale.
“Greenbax and C&S Wholesale Grocers are financing the purchase of many Piggly Wiggly stores by entrepreneurs who will operate them as truly local businesses owned entirely by local citizens of South Carolina and Georgia. Piggly Wiggly has gone back to its roots as a group of independently owned Piggly Wiggly stores joined by a common brand, collaborative marketing, and the flexibility of individual ownership. The Piggly Wiggly stores that are operating today in our trade area of South Carolina and southeast Georgia will be operating tomorrow and beyond under different ownership but with the same great people and products that are there today,” David Schools, president and CEO, Greenbax/Piggly Wiggly, said in an emailed statement to Progressive Grocer.
Piggly Wiggly Carolina has operated supermarkets under the Piggly Wiggly banner for 67 years and needs approval by two-thirds of its shareholders by 5 p.m. Oct. 15 for the deal to proceed. More than 80 percent of the shares are held by employees in an ESOP. If the deal is approved, ESOP participants are estimated to receive $55 per share, according to a story in Charleston’s The Post and Courier. The proceeds from the deal are estimated to be $6.1 million.
Greenbax, which operates Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. and Piggly Wiggly Holdings, will liquidate its other assets, which include real estate and majority ownership of a water bottling company, within 36 months. The company’s dissolution is a result of advice from an investment bank the company hired in September 2012 for long-term options. At that time, Piggly Wiggly’s board decided to exit the grocery business and liquidate assets. In September 2013, Piggly Wiggly Carolina sold 29 stores to Bi-Lo Holdings and Harris Teeter Supermarkets as well as shuttered its two distribution centers.