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    Houchens Industries to Purchase 14-store White's Chain

    The regional operator saw the transaction as the best way to provide stability for its employees.

    Fourteen-store regional Southern grocery chain White's Fresh Foods has signed a "letter of intent" to sell to Houchens Industries, the owner of over 400 grocery and convenience stores, among them locations operating under the IGA, Save-A-Lot and Food Giant banners, according to published reports.

    Houchens said that it intends "to maintain uninterrupted service in all current markets that White's services, including all the facilities that the White family owns."

    White's owner Doug White added that the deal was "the best opportunity that we can see to continue to service our customers, potentially expand that base...and provide stability to the 450-plus associates of the company and their families, in a way that today's environment has prevented us from doing."

    "White's feels this is an excellent opportunity for the employees and the company, as the purchaser...is a large, well-respected grocery chain," White's attorney, Art Fowler, told the Kingsport, Tenn. Times-News. Fowler added that Houchens has the right to maintain the White's name, but that he didn't know whether it would do so.

    Houchens' 200-plus Save-A-Lots feature a limited-assortment value format within a 15,000-square-foot space, while its 170 or so Houchens, Food Giant, IGA, Piggly Wiggly and Buy Low stores operate as traditional supermarkets. "The expectation is to keep [the White's stores] as conventional retail grocery stores," Houchens spokesman Alan Larsen told the Times-News, adding that the transaction should be completed in four or five weeks. TheĀ  company has not yet said whether any jobs would be cut or added.

    Johnson City, Tenn.-based White's stores are located in Virginia and Tennessee. Bowling Green, Ky.-based Houchens describes itself as "one of the largest employee-owned companies in the United States."

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