About one month after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Belle Foods has announced plans to sell all of its remaining grocery stores.
Belle Foods and C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. have reached an agreement for debtor-in-possession financing to be extended by C&S to Belle, which has been approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
According to the company, Belle has agreed to sell the 44 stores because it believes the sale of the stores presents the best opportunity to maximize value for the benefit of its creditors.
Bill and Jeff White, the owners of Belle, have retained the right to submit bids for the purchase of the stores. C&S has agreed to continue supplying the stores, ensuring that the stores will remain open to serve Belle’s customers. The debtor-in-possession financing and the C&S supply commitment extend through at least Oct. 4, 2013.
“At this point, this is the best way to serve our customers, preserve jobs for our employees and support our communities,” Bill White, owner and president of Belle, said in a press release. “We expect these stores to be sold as on-going operations and will work with any new owners to see that our people remain employed. We have some of the best and most experienced grocery professionals in the South working in our stores.”
Belle has agreed that a chief restructuring officer will be employed to assist the company during the bankruptcy process in order to maximize the value of the stores for all parties involved. Bill and Jeff White have agreed to stay with the company for a period of time in order to assist with the CRO’s transition, and they have also agreed to remain available to assist and consult with the CRO as needed.
“It would be great if Belle Foods were to exist in some form or fashion at the end of this process, but at this point, our focus is on our customers and teammates,” Bill White said.
Currently all of the 44 remaining Belle-owned stores are open for business.