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Bashas’, Inc. has confirmed reports that it will seek court approval to close 14 grocery stores by Oct. 10 of this year, but president and COO Mike Proulx is confident the regional independent chain will make a comeback.
“We’ve been working on a restructuring plan to ensure the long-term survival of our company and to preserve as many jobs as possible,” said Proulx. “In order for us to be a stronger company, we need to close some more underperforming stores, along with stores in newer areas that just didn’t grow or develop.”
Under Chapter 11, Bashas’ can ask the court to terminate leases and contracts that are seen as detrimental to its survival. So as part of the company’s restructuring, a team of internal and external experts has been reviewing every one of the grocer’s stores to determine each location’s viability -- now and into the future.
“We’ve been taking a long, hard look at each store in many different ways, weighing in a number of factors such as lease agreements, sales volume, store expenses, profit/loss and overall trade area conditions,” explained Proulx.
The company said it’s also going to great lengths to try to transfer employees affected by the closings to another company location. “We’re working hard to try to place as many employees as possible into another one of our stores,” said Edward “Trey” Basha, SVP and Basha family spokesman.
Bashas’ filed for Chapter 11 reorganization July 29, citing a combination of factors: the national credit crisis, an especially challenging Arizona economy, and the enactment of a threat by the international and local grocery workers’ union to drive Bashas’ out of business if the company didn’t adhere to the union’s demands.
Chandler, Ariz.-based Bashas’ has financial backing and a debtor-in-possession loan for $45 million to continue its operations now and into the future. The grocer plans to emerge from Chapter 11 in the first quarter of next year.
“The decisions we’re making as part of our restructuring process aren’t being made lightly,” noted Proulx. “We’re a people-centered company, but we have to make smart business decisions. We’re here for the long haul, and we will rebound. Moving forward, we’ll be concentrating our energies and our capital on improving our more than 130 stores in Arizona.”