Sweetbay becoming a Winn-Dixie

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 1:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 1:22 p.m.

Bi-Lo Holdings received regulatory approval last Tuesday to buy 165 grocery stores from Delhaize Group, clearing the way for Sweetbay Supermarket stores to convert to Winn-Dixie stores by summer.

The conversions will take place sometime between March 22 and May 31, according to Winn-Dixie spokeswoman Tiffany Hutto.

The deal includes 72 Sweetbay stores and leases for 10 closed Sweetbay locations, 72 Harveys stores and 11 Reid's stores.

Bi-Lo will keep the Harveys name, including at the locations in Melrose and Lake City.

The Sweetbay stores in Gainesville, Ocala and Belleview will convert to Winn-Dixies.

The Dunnellon Sweetbay will become a Rowe's IGA, as will locations in Arcadia, Wauchula and Lake Placid, as part of an agreement for Bi-Lo to divest ownership in 12 stores included in the deal.

Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo and Brussels-based Delhaize Group announced the $265 million transaction agreement in May 2013 and received transaction approval from the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday.

Sweetbay stores will close for a short time to prepare to reopen as Winn-Dixie. These stores will keep Sweetbay employees.

Bi-Lo Holdings, parent of BI-LO and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, currently operates nearly 700 stores in the southeastern U.S. Bi-Lo bought the 480-store Winn-Dixie chain in December 2011.

Sweetbay was created from the Kash N' Karry brand in 2004, converting the Gainesville store at 2002 SW 34th St. in 2007.

The conversion will give Winn-Dixie three stores in Gainesville.

— Anthony Clark

Cox jobs

Cox Communications announced last Wednesday it will eliminate more than 200 jobs in Florida as part of its plan to relocate call center jobs nationwide to seven centralized locations.

The decision will cut 42 positions from the company's Gainesville office off Northwest 43rd Street as well as 171 jobs in Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola, said Cameron Johnson, public affairs manager for the company.

By June, the positions will be relocated to centers in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Neb., Wichita, Kan., Hampton Roads, Va., and Baton Rouge, La.

Until then, employees at Florida's three impacted offices can relocate to one of the seven centers or apply for open positions within the company. For Gainesville employees, this includes jobs in the city and in Ocala.

Employees are eligible for a $15,000 relocation package if they move for a new position, Johnson said. If they leave the company, they'll receive a severance package.

The company will hold resume and interviewing workshops for impacted employees during the transitional period, Johnson said. Cox is also considering a job fair for open positions.

"Our priority is taking care of our employees," Johnson said.

The company said efficiency was the reason for its decision to relocate the call center jobs, which include technical and customer support positions.

"This is something competitors are doing nationwide," Johnson said.

Representatives at Gainesville's office couldn't be reached for comment late last Wednesday.

Johnson said the new centers will provide customers decreased wait times on the phone and representatives trained to handle specific problems.

The decision doesn't affect offices in South Florida or employees working in other departments, such as public affairs, marketing and human resources, in Gainesville.

"Cox will continue to provide more than 150 jobs in the Gainesville area," Johnson said. "We will remain an active member of the community."

— Chris Alcantara

Area restaurants

The Maui Teriyaki on Tower Road was scheduled to reopen Monday under the former partner of the owner who closed the restaurant and filed for personal bankruptcy on Jan. 17.

Nikita Patalinghug said she approached the landlord about reopening the restaurant after receiving a letter from bankruptcy court that the trustee for the estate of Teresita Gallagher intended to abandon ownership.

Patalinghug said workers are renovating the restaurant, which has delayed the opening of the new location in Newberry Square near Kmart. That will open by April 1, she said.

The last Quiznos sandwich restaurant in Gainesville will close in mid- to late March after 10 years in business, said franchisee Lance O'Carroll.

O'Carroll, 63, said his lease is up at 3545 SW 34th St. and he wants to retire.

Asked if business played a part in his decision, he said, "Business isn't that good to where I can just hire a manager. I'm just in here all the time myself."

Two Quiznos locations under another owner closed in 2011.

— Anthony Clark

Anthony Clark is the Gainesville Sun business editor and Chris Alcantara is a Gainesville Sun correspondent.

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