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Winn-Dixie to Sell Dairies to Southeast Milk

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In a bid to sharpen its focus on its retail operations, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. said yesterday it plans to sell the two dairies it operates -- one in Plant City, Fla. and the second in Hammond, La. -- to Southeast Milk, Inc. (SMI). Both facilities will remain in full production, and Winn-Dixie associates working in the plants will become employees of SMI at the close of the sale, the retailer said.

"We have concluded that the sale of our dairies is in the company's best interest as we continue to sharpen our focus on the retail operation of our business," said Winn-Dixie president, c.e.o., and chairman of the board Peter Lynch in a statement. "We are pleased that SMI recognizes the value of our dairies and the associates who work there, and we look forward to a successful partnership."

Calvin Covington, c.e.o. of SMI, said the purchase provides a "wonderful opportunity" for the company's family-owned dairy farmers to better serve consumers throughout the southeastern United States. SMI is a Florida-based cooperative of more than 300 family-owned and operated dairy farms, mainly in Florida but also in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.

Upon completion of this transaction, Winn-Dixie will operate one manufacturing plant -- its private label Chek Cola plant located in Fitzgerald, Ga.
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