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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. yesterday asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to transfer its Chapter 11 case from New York to the grocer's home turf in the Jacksonville division of the Middle District of Florida, citing an objection from a creditor as an "unnecessary distraction" to its move toward reorganization.
"We have always been comfortable having our Chapter 11 case heard in our hometown of Jacksonville," said Winn-Dixie president and c.e.o. Peter Lynch in a statement. "When we initially made the decision to file in New York, it was with the understanding that creditors preferred that location because of its convenience. In fact, our research showed that most of our major creditors either have offices or legal representation in New York. Now that an objection from a creditor has caused this matter to become an unnecessary distraction, we have asked the court in New York to agree to move the case to Jacksonville as soon as possible."
The trade creditor, Birmingham, Ala.-based Pepsi bottler Buffalo Rock Co., filed a motion March 14 seeking to transfer venue. Although Winn-Dixie disputes Buffalo Rock's assertions, the retailer said it has concluded that the issue has become a distraction, and that protracted litigation would only further distract it and its creditors from the fundamental issues to be resolved in Winn-Dixie's Chapter 11 cases.
A court hearing on Winn-Dixie's request to change venue has been scheduled for April 12. If the judge agrees to a change in venue, Winn-Dixie said procedures would be implemented to allow for an orderly transition of the case to the Jacksonville court. Winn-Dixie said it doesn't expect that such a transition would significantly delay or otherwise materially affect its reorganization proceedings.
As previously reported, on Feb. 21, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. and 23 of its U.S. subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. All Winn-Dixie stores in the United States and the Bahamas are open and conducting business as usual.