FINANCE

Bi-Lo Holdings, Delhaize Group deal moves forward

BY Michael Johnsen

New York — Bi-Lo Holdings and Delhaize Group have received approval from the Federal Trade Commission to proceed with the transaction in which Bi-Lo Holdings will acquire substantially all of the stores in Delhaize’s Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s supermarket chains. As part of the deal, Bi-Lo agreed to divest 12 Delhaize America stores in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, and Delhaize Group agreed to retain two stores that were initially part of the deal.

“We have been preparing for the integration of the Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s banners and store associates for many months and are delighted to now move forward and welcome them to the Bi-Lo Holdings family,” said Randall Onstead, president and CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings.

Bi-Lo Holdings also announced its decision to close eight of the acquired Delhaize America and five Bi-Lo Holdings stores due to close geographic proximity.

“Given the number of stores we are acquiring, we anticipated that we may be asked by the FTC to divest some stores to close the deal. In addition, with the close proximity of some of the Bi-Lo Holdings and Delhaize stores, we also knew that we would have to close a few stores as part of the acquisition,” Onstead said.

Bi-Lo Holdings initially acquired the Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s chains from Delhaize for $265 million in May 2013. The deal at the time included 72 Sweetbay stores, leases for 10 prior Sweetbay locations, 72 Harveys stores and 11 Reid’s stores, for a total of 165 stores throughout the Southeast.

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REAL ESTATE

Ashley Furniture opens 500th store; 50 more due in 2014

BY Staff Writer

Arcadia, Wis. — Ashley Furniture HomeStore, the largest furniture retailer in the U.S., celebrated the opening of its 500th store in Longview, Texas, on Feb. 21. It is the chain’s 48th store in the Lone Star state.

The company, whose sales exceeded $3 billion in 2013, has 50 additional HomeStore openings on tap in 2014.

"When the first HomeStore opened in 1997 (in Anchorage, Alaska), we were confident that this business model would be capable of providing complete home furniture solutions that would meet or exceed consumer expectations in price, delivery and service," said Todd Wanek, president and CEO of Ashley and Ashley Furniture HomeStore. "It is with a tenacity to never stop innovating that our teams – from the local level to our corporate headquarters – have propelled our growth throughout the last two decades, and with the latest improvements to our operations and customer fulfillment systems, I’m confident that this trend will continue into the future."

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FINANCE

E-commerce helps boost Vitamin Shoppe performance

BY Dan Berthiaume

North Bergen, N.J. – Strong results in its e-commerce segment, along with growing same-store sales and income from Super Supplements stores acquired in the fourth quarter, helped boost the performance of Vitamin Shoppe Inc. during the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2013. On a year-over-year basis, fourth quarter net income grew 15.9% to $11.2 million from $9.7 million.

Net sales in the quarter grew 17% to $256.4 million from $218.9 million and same-store sales rose 4.6%. During the fiscal year, net income increased 9% to $66.5 million from $60.8 million. Net sales grew 15% to about $1.09 billion from $950 million. Same-store sales grew 3.5%.

In addition to 25% e-commerce growth during the fourth quarter, CEO Tony Truesdale also credited the acquisition of Super Supplements and opening of a new distribution center in Ashland, Va.

"We participate in an attractive growth industry,” said Truesdale. “We remain focused on our long-term top and bottom line results and continue to make investments to support our growth. Our business generates strong cash flow, and our balance sheet is solid providing significant financial resources."

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