Winn-Dixie Stores has found -- as Jefferson Davis did long ago -- that winning Dixie ain't easy. The Deep South supermarket chain operates about 480 combination food and drug stores throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi under the Winn-Dixie and Winn-Dixie Marketplace banners. Most of Winn-Dixie's supermarkets have pharmacies, about 75 house liquor stores, and several sell gas. The company's brands include Thrifty Maid, Winn & Lovett, and Winn-Dixie. Founded in 1925, Winn-Dixie Stores is a subsidiary of BI-LO Holding, which merged Winn-Dixie and South Carolina-based BI-LO in 2012, and took them private.
Change in Company Type
Winn-Dixie merged with BI-LO in March 2012 and the two were taken private by BI-LO Holding in a deal valued at $560 million. Both companies continue to operate under their own banners. Combined the two rank as the ninth-largest supermarket chain in the US with nearly 690 grocery stores in eight states throughout the Southeast. BI-LO's owner, private equity firm Lone Star Funds, controls the combined companies.
Privately-held Winn-Dixie Stores doesn't report sales. However, it rang up an estimated $7.1 billion in sales in fiscal 2012 (ends June), up from a reported $6.9 billion in 2011. In fiscal 2011 the grocery chain's overall sales and same-store sales were essentially flat compared to the previous year. Net income, however, plunged in 2011 and the company posted a loss of about $70 million. Combined Winn-Dixie Stores and sister company BI-LO are projected to have about $10 billion in annual sales.
To fend off rivals (including Wal-Mart and Publix Super Markets) and stem the flow of red ink, Winn-Dixie had retrenched by exiting noncore markets and selling retail and manufacturing assets, including more than 500 supermarkets, during a bankruptcy restructuring. The asset sales have continued post bankruptcy as the regional chain struggles with the effects of food inflation, the shift from brand-name pharmaceuticals to generics, increased competition, and the weak economy. In 2011 Winn-Dixie sold its Deep South beverage manufacturing plant in Georgia to Polar Beverages. The sale marked the completion of its program to divest all non-core manufacturing operations. Polar is continuing to supply Winn-Dixie stores with Chek brand soft drinks, made by Deep South.
Winn-Dixie has tried to generate cash to fund an aggressive and expensive store-remodeling program. The company's strategy includes upscaling its image by emphasizing better customer service, freshness, quality, and cleanliness. While the grocer announced ambitious plans to remodel essentially all of its stores by mid-2013, it has revised its remodel strategy to become more selective.
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