Winn-Dixie closing 35 more stores
Published: Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at 11:58 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bankrupt Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. announced Tuesday that it will sell or close another 35 stores, bringing the total to 361 shuttered since the supermarket giant filed for reorganization last year.
Winn-Dixie said it plans to close 28 stores in Florida, three in Georgia, two in Alabama and two in Louisiana because they are not meeting the company's financial goals.
No Gainesville area stores will be affected by the closures.
"Over the past several months, we have thoroughly reviewed our store base in an effort to ensure Winn-Dixie is able to emerge from bankruptcy as a healthier and more competitive company," President and CEO Peter Lynch said in a statement.
Winn-Dixie currently operates 585 stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and the Bahamas. The cuts will reduce the number of stores to 550. Ten stores remain temporarily closed because of Hurricane Katrina.
The largest concentration of store closings is in South Florida, where nine will be shuttered.
The company also planned store closings in central Florida, the Fort Myers area, the West Palm Beach area, the Tampa area and one store in Jacksonville. No additional closings are planned, Lynch said.
Winn-Dixie, along with its advisers, is trying to identify potential buyers for the stores. Stores that can't be sold will be closed.
Winn-Dixie did not say how many people will lose their jobs as a result of the closings, but earlier Lynch said each store employs from 75 to 100 employees, many of them part-time workers.
Some of the workers may be able to move to other Winn-Dixie stores or be offered a position with companies that purchase the supermarkets.
Mark Hamstra, retail editor for The Supermarket News, said the closing of more stores did not come as a surprise.
"The industry knew Winn-Dixie has a lot of stores that are struggling out there," Hamstra said. "It is still up in the air as far as whether this is going to help or not."
Winn-Dixie and 21 of its subsidiaries filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code one year ago.
The company is currently scheduled to file its plan on how much it will pay its creditors by March 20, but it has asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter Funk for another 30 days to complete its work. Funk will hold a hearing March 9 on the request for the extension to April 19. The company still plans to emerge from bankruptcy by this summer.
Winn-Dixie's stock closed down 5.5 cents a share to 36.6 cents a share in over-the-counter trading Tuesday. In the past year, the stock has sold from 3 cents to $1.46.
On the Net:
Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.: http://www.winn-dixie.com
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