The lights could be coming back on at dozens of shuttered Sweetbay supermarkets. A major name in the grocery business is buying the company out.
The company that owns Winn-Dixie is shopping for grocery stores. Bi-Lo Holdings is doling out $265 million dollars to buy 72 Sweetbay stores and 10 of the 30 stores Sweetbay recently closed.
Kati Kiefer is a Valrico-based extreme couponer. She says since those Sweetbay locations closed, competition in some neighborhoods is slim.
"I think this is good news all around because it's a saving grace. A bigger company can come in and help them keep going," Kiefer said Wednesday.
Bi-Lo hasn't announced whether they'll keep the Sweetbay name or if they'll swap it to the Winn-Dixie brand. Either way, experts say the merger will create another player in Florida's fierce grocery wars.
"What happens when they're together? Right now, Winn-Dixie has 10.5 percent of the market share, Sweetbay has 4.5 percent. Together, that's only 14.7 percent. Nowhere near Walmart's 27 percent or Publix at 44 percent," FOX 13 consumer reporter Chris Chmura said Wednesday.
Still, some say any competition means more money right where shoppers want it: staying in their wallets.
"When they compete with other big stores, it allows the consumer to win. Ultimately, having that competition helps us and helps our bottom line so when we have the competitors it's a good thing," Kiefer said.
The deal isn't expected to be complete until October at the earliest, so shoppers will likely have to wait a little longer to see any kind of change to storefronts. 2,000 Sweetbay employees were laid off back in February when the chain closed 33 locations. It's unclear if any more employees will lose their jobs during the buyout.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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