A number of big stories came out of the southeastern states in 2012. Below are the most noteworthy as reported by The Shelby Report this year.
Co-ops Under New Leadership
Several grocery cooperatives across the Southeast underwent leadership changes in 2012.
Christopher Miller, who was tapped as the president of Associated Grocers of Florida in late 2011, marked his first year at the helm of the organization that previously was led by his father, Cal Miller. Full article
At Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co., David Bullard now is leading the Bessemar-based wholesaler. He succeeded Dennis Stewart, who retired June 1 after serving as CEO for 18 years. Full article
Also in Alabama, Stan Alexander took over as president and CEO of Associated Grocers of the South. He assumed the role following the Aug. 30 retirement of Gerry Totoritis, who led the Birmingham-based co-op for a dozen years. Full article
Delhaize Closes 126 Stores, Retires Bloom Banner; Food Lion Launches Brand Strategy
Delhaize America closed 126 underperforming stores—113 Food Lions, seven Blooms and six Bottom Dollar locations—and cut 4,900 jobs as part of a broader restructuring in 2012. The Salisbury, N.C.-based company’s Clinton, Tenn., distribution center also ceased operations. Full stores closing article
The Bloom stores that do remain open have been converted to the Food Lion banner, effectively ending the life of Bloom, which was created in 2004. The restructuring converted 64 Bloom and Bottom Dollar stores in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland to Food Lion banner stores.
Additionally, Food Lion rolled out its new brand strategy at hundreds of stores across the Southeast in 2012.
“As part of our new strategy, we are committed to being recognized as a price leader, making our stores easier to shop, offering the greatest value in store brands and providing fresh produce,” said Cathy Green Burns, president of Food Lion. “We believe our new brand strategy enables us to better serve our customers in these markets.” Food Lion strategy article
Belle Foods Forms to Buy Southern Family Markets
A new company—Belle Foods LLC—formed early in the year to purchase all 57 Southern Family Markets (SFM) stores in the Southeast.
Belle Foods was created in Birmingham by industry veteran William “Bill” White. The company purchased SFM stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi that operated under the banners Food World, Piggly Wiggly, Bruno’s and SFM. These stores now operate as Belle Foods stores. Full article
BI-LO and Winn-Dixie Merge, Move Combined HQ to Jacksonville
Southeast supermarket chains BI-LO and Winn-Dixie merged the companies in early March and moved the combined company (BI-LO Holding) headquarters to Jacksonville, Fla., Winn-Dixie’s home turf. BI-LO, which purchased Winn-Dixie for $560 million, was based in Mauldin, S.C. Both BI-LO and Winn-Dixie continue to operate their respective banners, though they now share a parent company—operating the nation’s ninth largest traditional grocery chain as measured by revenue.
Randall Onstead, previously the top executive at BI-LO, leads BI-LO Holding as president and CEO. Peter Lynch, former chairman, CEO and president of Winn-Dixie, resigned.
Fallout Results from Ground Beef Controversy
Reports earlier in the year that beef processing byproducts, or lean finely textured beef (LFTB), treated with anti-bacterial agents such as ammonia or citric acid is unsafe resulted in fallout for beef processors, in particular Beef Products Inc. (BPI) with its headquarters in Dakota Dunes, S.D. LFTB, dubbed “pink slime” by many major news outlets across the world, caused grocers and retailers to pull LFTB from their meat cases.
BPI says it was forced to close three of its facilities, causing 700 workers to lose their jobs. It recently filed suit against ABC for disinformation campaign, citing more than $1 billion in claimed damages. Full article
Albertsons LLC Closes Most Florida Stores
Albertsons LLC closed 13 of its 17 remaining Florida stores and ceased operations of its limited-line distribution center in Plant City over the summer. Shuttered stores included those in: Bradenton, Key West, Lake Mary, Longwood, Port St. Lucie, Orlando, Sarasota, Valrico, Venice, Vero Beach, Winter Springs and two locations in Apopka. The closures affected more than 1,000 workers. Full article
Harris Teeter, Lowes Swap Off 16 Stores
North Carolina grocery chains Harris Teeter Supermarkets and Lowes Foods Stores struck a deal in late spring to buy and sell stores to each other to bolster operations in different areas of the Carolinas. The deal resulted in Matthews-based Harris Teeter purchasing 10 Lowes Foods locations in the central Carolinas region and Winston-Salem-based Lowes Foods receiving $26.5 million and six Harris Teeter stores in western North Carolina. Full article
Supervalu Eyes ‘Strategic Alternatives’
In July, Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu—with supermarkets and distribution centers across the nation—announced that it was looking at what its strategic alternatives might be, including selling all or parts of the company following a challenging first quarter. At presstime, no buyers had emerged for the troubled supermarket operator and grocery wholesaler.
“Supervalu has gone through a lot of change over the last decade,” Keith Anderson, VP and senior analyst at RetailNet Group, told The Shelby Report in November. “The integration with C&S was a big transition and it was a big bet on Save-A-Lot. And structurally, as a corporate entity, they just face a lot of pressures.
“We are sure there will be some kind of resolution to everything,” he added, “but I don’t have a prediction of what it’s going to be.”
The company also appointed a new president and CEO in July. Wayne C. Sales, the company’s board chairman, replaced Craig R. Herkert as the leader of Supervalu.
In other Supervalu news, Save-A-Lot plans to open a new distribution center in Pompano Beach, Fla., by the end of the company’s 2013 fiscal year on Feb. 23. The 250,374-s.f. distribution center will be located just off I-95 at 2800 North Andrews Ave. in Broward County. Full article
Find an updated Supervalu story here.
Kroger’s Success Evidenced by Growth Plans
The Kroger Co. reported in October that it plans to invest in a targeted expansion strategy to increase square footage and store penetration in existing markets and enter new markets. The Cincinnati-based grocer, with many stores throughout the Southeast, expects to increase capital spending by an incremental $200 million annually. Kroger says details as to when and where the growth will occur will be revealed in 2013.
The announcement came after a successful year for the grocery giant. It has experienced 35 consecutive quarters of identical supermarkets sales increases.
In other Southeast Kroger news this year, the company promoted Tim Brown to president of its Memphis-based Delta division, which includes stores in western Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. Full article
Publix Enters New State
Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets is entering North Carolina, with its first store in the Tar Heel State tentatively scheduled to open in the Charlotte area in early 2014. The 56,000-s.f. store in Ballantyne will be part of the company’s new division based in Charlotte. That division will be led by Publix veteran Chuck Roskovich.