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At least 30 Belle Foods stores are anticipated to remain open after 43 locations of the bankrupt Southeastern grocery chain were auctioned off this week, according to published reports. Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. (AWG) made the winning bid of $16.13 million and also agreed to buy the inventories of several other stores at a discount.
AWG’s “stalking horse” bid plan, filed with 11 other bidders in the closed auction, must be approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama. According to the plan, some of the other buyers will close 13 Belle Foods stores and liquidate their inventories, with the remainder reopening under new or existing banners. Birmingham, Ala.-based Belle ran stores under the Belle Foods, Piggly Wiggly, Food World, Southern Family Markets and Bruno’s names.
Buyers that would operate stores as part of AWG’s bid include Food Champs LLC, HAC Inc., Ramey Enterprises, Mitchell Grocery and Triple V. The buyers in the deal have agreed to buy at least portions of the inventory in the stores at varying discounts off the retail prices.
According to the terms of the deal, other bidders must outbid AWG and the other buyers by a minimum of $700,000 in the initial bid, with subsequent bids required to be in increments of at least $100,000.
Belle Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July. Its chief creditor is Keene, N.H.-based C&S Wholesale Grocers.