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Coborn’s To Acquire Sullivan’s Foods In Illinois

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Last updated on April 21st, 2023 at 04:31 pm

Coborn’s Inc. has signed a purchase agreement to acquire the Sullivan’s Foods grocery stores and other business units in northern and central Illinois, the company’s first expansion into the state.

The stores are operated by the Sullivan family under the Sullivan’s Foods banner.

About 800 people work in the organization, which is comprised of 11 grocery stores, a convenience store/fuel center, three ACE Hardware stores, a central office and limited-assortment warehouse. All employees will be hired by Coborn’s Inc. The stores will continue to operate under the Sullivan’s Foods name. 

The Sullivan’s Foods stores included in the acquisition are located in Freeport, Kewanee, Lena, Marengo, Mendota, Morrison, Princeton, Mt. Morris, Savanna, Stockton and Winnebago, Illinois. The acquisition also includes other retail business units, such as the JB Sullivan Inc. (corporate office facility) in Savanna, the Sullivan’s Foods Warehouse in Savanna, two Sullivan’s Ace Hardware stores in Mendota and Winnebago, Sullivan’s Home and Hardware in Savanna and the Savanna Station (c-store). 

“The Sullivan family has run their family of stores with great care and is a highly respected retailer,” said Chris Coborn, chairman and CEO.

“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. 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 is a family-owned and -operated grocery retail business that was started in 1967 by John and June Sullivan. While serving in the Army, John took a part-time job as a meat cutter. After his military service, he became a full-time meat cutter in Stockton, Illinois. The family later moved to Platteville, Wisconsin, where John worked for another grocery store.

During his seven years in Platteville, he learned more about the meat cutting trade. In September 1967, John and June moved to Savanna, Illinois, and purchased their own grocery store. With the success of this location, they expanded their business in 1973 with an additional store located in Stockton.

To keep up with the growing market, the owners purchased two more locations in 1978, and then in 1980, purchased another two locations. Today, Sullivan’s Foods operates 11 locations in northern and central Illinois. Their six children have all been involved in some way with the business.  

Sullivan’s Foods is supplied by Associated Wholesale Grocers as its lead wholesaler. It will continue this relationship with AWG.  

“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 in early May, subject to customary closing conditions. With this acquisition, Coborn’s Inc.’s portfolio of grocery stores will expand to 77 locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan and Illinois. The company operates about 135 business units, including grocery stores, retail liquor stores, fuel centers, pharmacies and franchised restaurant businesses.    

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