BI-LO (United States)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Company typePrivate
IndustryGrocery store
Founded1961 (1961)
DefunctApril 18, 2021 (2021-04-18)
FateBanner eliminated
HeadquartersJacksonville, Florida, United States
Area served
Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina
Key people
Anthony Hucker (President and CEO)
ProductsBakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, meat, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor
Number of employees
About 13,000
ParentSoutheastern Grocers

BI-LO was an American supermarket chain owned by Southeastern Grocers, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time of the banner’s elimination, supermarkets under the BI-LO brand were operated in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.


In 1961, Frank Outlaw, a former Winn-Dixie executive, bought four Greenville, South Carolina, grocery stores from the chain Wrenn and Syracuse and created the Wrenn & Outlaw chain. The official name of the company became BI-LO in 1963. Outlaw created a contest and asked the employees to submit store names. Edna Plumblee, Outlaw's secretary, won the contest by submitting the name "BI-LO".[1]

BI-LO was sold to Ahold, a Dutch retail food conglomerate, in 1977. In 1994, Ahold purchased Red Food Stores, Inc. and merged its locations (around 55 of them) in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee into BI-LO the following year.[2][3] In 2001, Ahold purchased the Birmingham, Alabama based Bruno's Supermarkets chain and combined its operations with BI-LO.

In 1998, the company sponsored the construction of the BI-LO Center, now named the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

In May 2000, BI-LO acquired 134 convenience stores from Golden Gallon, based in Chattanooga, TN.

In June 2001, BI-LO debuted their discount grocery format, FoodSmart in Camden, South Carolina. A month later, BI-LO purchased eight Harris Teeter grocery stores in South Carolina and converted those stores to either BI-LO or the FoodSmart formats.[4]

In 2003, BI-LO invested in redesigning its store layout to attract high end customers. The result was the new Super BI-LO concept of a larger store layout featuring a greater selection of healthier foods, specialty foods, and organic foods. The company opened new Super BI-LO branded stores as well as remodeled older stores in affluent neighborhoods during this redesign period.[5]

In 2005, Ahold sold BI-LO/Bruno's to Lone Star Funds.[6] In order to concentrate on renovating older stores, building new ones, and investing in newer information technology, the new owners sold off 104 BI-LO, FoodSmart, Bruno's, Food Fair, and Food World stores in areas where the chain did not have significant market penetration. They also sold off three BI-LO/Bruno's distribution centers to grocery wholesaler, C&S Wholesale Grocers who converted some of the stores to Southern Family Markets.[7][8] Included in the sell-off were all stores in the Knoxville, TN, area which nearly all were immediately occupied by Food City stores. As of 2010, one location in the area has not been leased to any business in five years, in part due to Food City already owning a former Winn-Dixie location just a short walk away.

On March 21, 2007, Lone Star Funds announced the corporate spin-off of the 67 Bruno's Supermarkets and Food World stores from BI-LO LLC into a separate company to be based out of Birmingham.[9] On April 16, 2007, Lone Star announced the 230-store BI-LO chain was up for sale. Soon after, C&S announced that it was closing the Chattanooga distribution center that served the BI-LOs in the Chattanooga area and portions of North Georgia.[10]

On March 23, 2009, the company announced that it had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the intent to use the court-supervised process to address "an upcoming debt maturity". The move was largely due to the post-2008 crash and the resultant credit crisis. The company said to expect its stores and regular operations to continue to operate as usual during the process. The company secured a $100 million loan from GE Capital in order to continue paying wages, salaries, benefits, suppliers, and vendors.[11] In October 2009, Delhaize Group, headquartered in Belgium and owner of competing chain Food Lion, announced that it had entered a preliminary, non-binding agreement to purchase $425 million worth of assets from the chain.[12] Shortly after, in November 2009, the company filed plans with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to restructure, with their parent company, Lone Star Funds, providing a $350 million cash infusion. Delhaize Group and Food Lion were subsequently left out of the submitted plans. Lone Star Funds said that it was possible that BI-LO could emerge from bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2010.[13]

The interior of a BI-LO store in Chattanooga, Tennessee

On May 12, 2010, the company emerged from bankruptcy.[14][15] BI-LO, ranked by Supermarket News in the Top 75 Retailers, remained under ownership of Lone Star Funds after restructuring.[15][16] BI-LO was reportedly put up for sale in August 2010; Kroger and Publix were said to be interested in acquiring the chain,[17] but nothing developed from these rumors.

In September 2013, BI-LO agreed to buy 22 Piggly Wiggly stores in South Carolina and Georgia from Piggly Wiggly Carolina. The following day, BI-LO agreed to sell seven BI-LO locations in the Charlotte, North Carolina region to Publix.[18][19]

In July 2015, Southeastern Grocers announced the sale of its 21 BI-LO locations in the Chattanooga market as well as eight BI-LO locations in Northern Georgia to K-VA-T Food Stores, which would rebrand the stores under its Food City banner. The two companies said that stores would begin transitioning August 30 and would be completed by October 5, 2015. Southeastern Grocers was expected to use proceeds from the deal to reduce debt. This sale ended BI-LO's presence in the Tennessee market.[20]

In May 2017, Southeastern Grocers announced the closing of six BI-LO stores in North Carolina and South Carolina as part of a corporate-wide closure of 20 locations along with the elimination of some department lead roles at stores.[21] Later that same month, BI-LO announced the closings of three additional stores in Newton, North Carolina and Florence and Irmo, South Carolina.[22][23][24]

In February 2019, Southeastern Grocers announced plans to close 22 locations. This round of closures included 13 BI-LO locations in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.[25]

2018 bankruptcy[edit]

On March 15, 2018, Southeastern Grocers announced they would file a plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 by the end of March. According to the company, the restructuring would decrease overall debt levels by over $500 million. Under this plan, 22 BI-LO stores would close along with an additional 72 stores across the Harveys, Fresco y Más, and Winn-Dixie brands.[26][27]

On March 28, 2018, Southeastern agreed to sell three BI-LO locations in South Carolina along with three Harveys locations in Georgia to three independent Piggly Wiggly store owners. The deals are in conjunction with the restructuring support agreement revealed by Southeastern Grocers.[28] On April 27, 2018, Food Lion announced plans to acquire four BI-LO locations in Florence, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, and Columbia, South Carolina.[29] On April 30, 2018, Publix announced they would acquire the lease, fixtures, equipment, permits, and licenses for the Seneca, South Carolina BI-LO location slated to close as part of the original restructuring plan.[30] Two of the BI-LO locations originally closed as part of the bankruptcy reorganization in April 2018, Ladson and Mullins, South Carolina, were acquired by another independent Piggly Wiggly owner and would be reopened in June 2018.[31]

In May 2018, Southeastern Grocers restructuring plan was confirmed by a U.S. Bankruptcy judge in Delaware. At the end of that month, Southeastern Grocers announced that it had completed its financial restructuring and was emerging from bankruptcy. As part of the restructuring, $522 million in debt was exchanged for equity in Southeastern Grocers, though it was not announced who was receiving the equity shares. Southeastern Grocers exited bankruptcy with 575 stores in seven states, down from 704 locations. They also announced a planned remodels of 100 stores in 2018.[32]

Acquisition of Winn-Dixie[edit]

On December 19, 2011, it was announced that BI-LO and Winn-Dixie would merge to create an organization with some 690 grocery stores and 63,000 employees in eight states throughout the southeastern United States.[33] BI-LO will purchase Winn-Dixie for $530 million, and operate Winn-Dixie as a subsidiary with its stores maintaining the Winn-Dixie name. It was later announced that the merged company would be based at Winn-Dixie's former headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.[34] In early 2013, BI-LO phased out its own private label soft drinks in its BI-LO stores in favor of the "Chek" brand used by Winn-Dixie.

Elimination of the BI-LO banner[edit]

On June 9, 2020, Southeastern Grocers announced the decision to no longer operate stores under the BI-LO banner. As part of an effort to reach that goal, Southeastern reached an agreement to sell 62 stores, including 46 BI-LO and 16 Harveys Supermarkets, to Ahold Delhaize subsidiary Food Lion. As part of that agreement, they would also be transitioning their Mauldin, South Carolina, distribution center over to Ahold Delhaize USA Distribution, LLC. Both of these closed in the first half of 2021, at which point over 60 stores began to transition to the Food Lion banner. Following the announcement, Food Lion purchased additional stores in 2021 located in North and South Carolina that were scheduled to close, acquiring roughly 70 stores total.

In addition, as part of the same announcement, Southeastern announced they will be divesting the assets of 57 of the in-store pharmacies it operates under the BI-LO and Harveys Supermarket banners to CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens. These locations included all of the company's BI-LO pharmacies and nine Harveys Supermarket pharmacies in Georgia. The transition was expected to begin within two weeks of the press release date.[35]

On September 1, 2020, it was announced that Southeastern Grocers was selling 20 BI-LO stores in South Carolina and Georgia to Alex Lee, Inc who would rebrand the stores as KJ's Market, IGA and Lowes Foods. In the same announcement, 2 additional BI-LO and one Harvey's Supermarket location in South Carolina would be sold to independent operator B&T Foods. Following the sale, BI-LO would have 39 stores remaining in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.[36]

On December 21, 2020, two independent Piggly Wiggly owners, with support from C&S Wholesale Grocers, announced plans to acquire one BI-LO supermarket in South Carolina and another in Georgia from Southeastern Grocers. Both locations were previously Piggly Wiggly stores that were acquired by SEG in 2013.[37]

The stores that were not sold to any other operators were closed on or by April 18, 2021, ending the 60 year run of the BI-LO banner.[38]


  • "Our produce is better because of Walter" - mid 1980s
  • "When You BI-LO, You Get More Than Low Prices" — prior to 1990
  • "Why Pay More..." — 1990 to early 2000s
  • "The Name Fits" — 1990s
  • "Everybody's favorite way to save" — early 2000s to 2007
  • "Real Savings. Real Fresh." — 2007 to 2010
  • "Savings without sacrifice." — 2010 to 2015
  • "Proudly serving the Southeast since 1961." — 2015 to 2021

Private labels[edit]

Throughout late 2004 and 2005, the company gradually phased out its "BI-LO" private label for its store products and replaced it with new packaging and a new name, "Southern Home", which began also being offered at Harveys Supermarkets locations after Southeastern Grocers' acquisition of the chain from Delhaize. In the late 2000s, the chain started offering the budget-conscious Clear Value brand on select products, supplied by Topco. Beginning in 2017, the Southern Home banner used for private-label products began to be phased out for a tiered brand entitled SE Grocers, which was the private label brand used at all Southeastern Grocers owned stores, including Winn-Dixie (whose namesake private label brand was phased out).


  1. ^ Dykes, David. "BI-LO Transformation Continues". Greenville Business Magazine. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  2. ^ Ahold to Buy U.S. Chain, The New York Times, February 22, 1994
  3. ^ Ahold in U.S.A. Archived August 31, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, accessed September 10, 2006
  4. ^ Harris Teeter has left Spartanburg, July 7, 2001
  5. ^ BI-LO Invests In Redesign Archived February 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Times Free Press January 25, 2008
  6. ^ "Lone Star Funds agrees to buy Bruno's from Ahold". American City Business Journals. December 23, 2004.
  7. ^ Bi-Lo closures described as strategy to rebuild grocery firm Archived December 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Augusta Chronicle dated May 5, 2005
  8. ^ Local Bi-Lo store sold to C&S Wholesale Archived December 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, dated May 5, 2005
  9. ^ "Lone Star Funds to Operate Bruno's as Separate Entity". Progressive Grocer. March 21, 2007.
  10. ^ Local BI-LO Warehouses Closing Archived September 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, The Chattanoogan April 16, 2007
  11. ^ Springer, Jon (March 24, 2009). "Bi-Lo Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy". Supermarket News.
  12. ^ Delhaize To Buy $425M Worth Of Assets From BI-LO Archived October 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Bi-Lo plan excludes Food Lion deal". American City Business Journals. November 24, 2009.
  14. ^ "SC-based grocer emerges from bankruptcy protection". WRDW-TV. Associated Press. May 12, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ a b Zwiebach, Elliot (May 13, 2010). "Bi-Lo Emerges From Chapter 11". Supermarket News.
  16. ^ "TOP 75 RETAILERS & WHOLESALERS". Supermarket News.
  17. ^ "Bi-Lo on the Block: Source". Supermarket News. August 10, 2010.
  18. ^ Springer, Jon (September 12, 2013). "Piggly Wiggly Carolina Sells 28 Stores". Supermarket News.
  19. ^ "Publix to buy seven Bi-Lo stores in Charlotte area". Supermarket News. September 13, 2013.
  20. ^ Springer, Jon (July 23, 2015). "K-VA-T to buy, convert Bi-Lo in Chattanooga". Supermarket News.
  21. ^ Springer, Jon (May 8, 2017). "Southeastern confirms 20 store closures; store management restructuring". Supermarket News.
  22. ^ "Bi-Lo closing store on West Palmetto Street in Florence". SCNow Morning News. May 16, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  23. ^ "Bi-Lo to Shut Down Store in Irmo". May 16, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Newton's BI-LO grocery store announces June closing". May 22, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  25. ^ "Southeastern Grocers will close 22 stores". February 22, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  26. ^ Browne, Michael (March 15, 2018). "Southeastern Grocers initiates financial restructuring". Supermarket News.
  27. ^ "SEG Reaches Agreement with Key Economic Stakeholders on Terms of Financial Restructuring". Southeastern Grocers. March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  28. ^ "Piggly Wiggly Indie Storeowners Buying 6 Southeastern Grocers Locations". Progressive Grocer. March 28, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  29. ^ Redman, Russell (April 27, 2018). "Food Lion buys Bi-Lo stores in South Carolina". Supermarket News.
  30. ^ "Publix to Acquire Closing Bi-Lo in South Carolina". Winsight Grocery Business. April 30, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  31. ^ "Two more Piggly Wiggly supermarkets opening in South Carolina". The Post And Courier. June 1, 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  32. ^ "Southeastern Grocers completes bankruptcy reorganization". Jacksonville Daily Record. May 31, 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  33. ^ "Bi‐Lo And Winn‐Dixie Agree To Merge". BI-LO. Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  34. ^ Egan, Matt (December 19, 2011). "BI-LO Buys Winn-Dixie for $530 Million; Deal Translates to 75% Premium". Fox Business. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  35. ^ "Southeastern Grocers Announces Transactions to Advance Five-Year Business Transformation Strategy" (PDF) (Press release). JACKSONVILLE, Fla.: Southeastern Grocers. June 3, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  36. ^ "'Southeastern Grocers to sell 23 stores to Alex Lee, B&T Food'". Supermarket News. September 2020.
  37. ^ "'Piggly Wiggly owners to buy pair of Bi-Lo stores'". Supermarket News. December 21, 2020.
  38. ^ "What you loved about Bi-Lo, and what you might not remember about the grocery chain".

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