Founders of Lucky's Market agree to manage remaining stores
COLUMBIA - Lucky’s Market announced Wednesday that is has made a purchase agreement for the seven stores it will continue to operate — including the Columbia location— with a group led by founders Bo and Trish Sharon.
In a whirlwind week of announcements, the company said Jan. 21 that the chain was closing most of its stores. Then on Monday, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced separate purchase agreements for some stores it had intended to close with Aldi and Publix grocery chains.
“We are grateful to our wonderful team members and customers for all their support, dedication and loyalty over the years,” said Bo Sharon, who founded Lucky’s in 2003 with his wife Trish, said in a news release Wednesday.
“While this is a difficult situation across our Company, we remain passionate and optimistic that we can continue to offer our communities access to healthful foods in this smaller footprint, preserving hundreds of jobs,” Sharon said in the release. Court filings related to the Chapter ii application state that Sharon and his wife "continue to own a membership interest" in the business.
With Wednesday's announcement, Lucky's reaffirmed that at the time of the Chapter 11 filing, "the company had sufficient cash on hand." Throughout the reorganization process, a release said, "the company should have the continued ability to meet its financial obligations, including those to its employees, as well as to vendors."
In all of its press releases the company has said the Lucky's Market in Columbia will remain open. Along with the Columbia market, six other locations — in Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Colorado — will remain open. Those would all be operated by the group led by the Sharons, according to the latest press release.
The company has entered into purchase agreements with supermarket chains ALDI and Publix for 11 of its closing stores, according to Business Insider.
The sale agreements will have to be approved by the federal court supervising Lucky's Chapter 11 filing.
Kroger divested its stake in Lucky's Market in December, according to the Progressive Grocer. Kroger previously invested in the company in 2016 to expand its presence across the country. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Lucky's owed $301 million to Kroger under a secured loan.
A case filed under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code is often referred to as "reorganization bankruptcy," according to the administrative office of the U.S. Courts. Chapter 11 allows the company to reorganize its finances and develop a new fiscal plan, which can involve selling assets to other companies or groups, such as that led by the Sharons.
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