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Greenville Business Magazine

Earth Fare to Reopen in Greenville

Aug 22, 2020 04:44PM ● By David Dykes

By David Dykes

Earth Fare plans to reopen its store on Pelham Road in Greenville and has begun hiring for the location.

Banners outside the store Saturday announced the opening was “coming soon” and passersby were told it would reopen Sept. 2 under new owners.

Earth Fare officials couldn’t be reached for comment. It wasn’t known how many employees would be hired.

The Asheville-based supermarket chain said in February it would begin inventory liquidation sales at all of its stores.

The company said that pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), all employees had been notified of the impending closure of the company's stores and corporate office.

The company said at the time it would continue to pursue a sale of assets, in whole or in parts.

In recent years, the company implemented numerous strategic initiatives aimed at growth and expansion and improving the customer experience.

"While many of these initiatives improved the business, continued challenges in the retail industry impeded the company's progress as well as its ability to refinance its debt,” company officials said in a statement. “As a result, Earth Fare is not in a financial position to continue to operate on a go-forward basis. As such, we have made the difficult, but necessary decision to commence inventory liquidation sales while we continue to engage in a process to find potential suitors for our stores."

Supermarket News reported Earth Fare filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court, following the announcement it planned to sell off assets and go out of business.

The grocer said in the filing that its board of directors met Nov. 5 to explore strategic options for the company — including a restructuring, reorganization, or sale — and adopted the plan to file for Chapter 11 in a meeting on Feb. 3, the trade publication reported.

The Charleston Post and Courier subsequently reported a group of investors in late March announced they would reopen the Earth Fare store on North Main Street in Summerville, along with about seven others across the Southeast.

The reopening in Greenville saves a large commercial space on Pelham Road, where Lowes Foods appears ready to build another Greenville County store - on former church property nearby. The company has said it doesn't have a specific timeline for opening.

A BI-LO store is across the street from the Earth Fare location.

Southeastern Grocers Inc., parent company of BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores, announced earlier this year a series of transactions it said ensures the company continues to thrive and support the long-term growth of its core banners.

But one move looms as troubling for the grocery store chain founded in 1961 by Frank Outlaw and once headquartered in Mauldin, S.C.

A spokesperson for Jacksonville, Fla.-based SEG said the company made the strategic decision to no longer operate stores under the BI-LO banner to allow for greater investment in growing the Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie banners.

To further that goal, SEG said it agreed to sell 62 stores, including 46 BI-LO and 16 Harveys Supermarkets, to Food Lion, a subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize, and was actively exploring strategic options for the remaining BI-LO stores, including other potential transactions.

Asked what that could mean, the SEG spokesperson said in an email, “Southeastern Grocers is not closing any store locations as part of the transaction with Food Lion. Following the successful completion of the Food Lion transaction, Southeastern Grocers will pursue strategic options, including potential transactions, for the remaining (61) BI-LO stores.”