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Homeland Emerges from Bankruptcy

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma supermarket operator Homeland has emerged from bankruptcy as a fully owned subsidiary of Kansas City-based Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., the companies announced late Monday.

Homeland's assets, including 43 stores throughout Oklahoma, now make up the new subsidiary, The Oklahoman reports. The stores will continue to operate under the Homeland name.

AWG is a retailer-owned cooperative that supplies more than 850 retail grocery stores in 10 states. It reported an annual sales volume of more than $3.2 billion last year.

"This should put Homeland in a much better position, given the financial strength and significant operating experience and a very important relationship with its wholesaler," Tulsa money manager Fred Russell told the newspaper. "That should put Homeland in a much better competitive position than before and during the bankruptcy."

The company will continue to be headquartered in Oklahoma City, said Larry Willis, Homeland's new president and chief executive. Willis also said he expects no reduction in Homeland's staff.

"For us to achieve our goals, our associates must be completely focused on customer service and passionate about satisfying every customer, bar none," Willis told the newspaper. "While we enjoy a strong nucleus of dedicated associates who were believe can help to achieve our goals and implement our vision, we will hire future associates who embrace our customer-focus approach and can deliver it."

David Clark, Homeland's former president, resigned after completing the reorganization.

AWG already supplies more than 70 percent of the products sold in Homeland stores. AWG also acquired 29 Homeland stores in a similar Chapter 11 emergence seven years ago.

"They know each other and trust each other, so this should be an easy walk down the aisles and an easy checkout," Russell said.

But even with AWG's backing, Homeland will still not have an easy time competing against the likes of Wal-Mart, Albertsons and others, Russell said.
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