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    Winn-Dixie to Sell or Close 35 More Stores

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In its quest to emerge a leaner and healthier chain from Chapter 11 reorganization by the summer, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. said it has chosen to sell or close 35 more stores, including 28 in its home state.

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In its quest to emerge a leaner and healthier chain from Chapter 11 reorganization by the summer, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. said it has chosen to sell or close 35 more stores, including 28 in its home state.

    The retailer said yesterday that it had made the decision to dispatch this latest chunk of its store base upon close scrutiny of its entire store portfolio. The chain said the latest crop of closures is intended to enhance its financial performance, positioning it for future profitability.

    "Over the past several months, we have thoroughly reviewed our store base in an effort to ensure Winn-Dixie is able to emerge from Chapter 11 as a healthier and more competitive company," said president and c.e.o. Peter Lynch in a statement. "We have now completed this review, and identified 35 stores to be sold or closed because they do not meet our financial requirements going forward. We believe the 550 stores in our continuing footprint will provide us with the most solid possible foundation on which to build a more profitable future for Winn-Dixie. At this time, we do not expect any other store closings as part of our Chapter 11 reorganization process."

    Winn-Dixie said that with the help of outside advisors, it actively seeking buyers for the stores. The units that cannot be sold will be closed, it said.

    Of the stores to be sold, 28 are in Florida, including nine in the competitive Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market; three are in Georgia, two are in Alabama, and the remaining two are in Louisiana. A complete list of the stores is available on Winn-Dixie's Web site at www.winndixie.com.

    Upon the closures, Winn-Dixie will operate 550 stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and the Bahamas (which include 10 that are temporarily closed as a result of Hurricane Katrina).

    In an initial round of pruning last June, Winn-Dixie had chosen 326 stores to sell or close.

    Lynch added that wherever possible, the company would try to provide employment opportunities for affected associates.

    In related news, Winn-Dixie reported in an SEC filing yesterday that its net sales for the four weeks ended Feb. 8 were $584.7 million, compared to $630.3 million in its last monthly period. Its operating loss was $12.7 million, while its net loss was $15.8 million.

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