BI-LO is a supermarket chain based in Maudlin, South Carolina. They have over 200 markets in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia. Throughout its history, BI-LO has faced difficult times, but it still continues its founder’s vision and is proudly facing a bright future.
BI-LO was founded by Frank Wrenn, a former executive of Winn-Dixie, in 1961. Frank’s main focus was providing a store where people could buy name brand products at lower prices. First named “Wrenn and Outlaw”, Frank held a contest for his employees choosing a new name for the grocery chain. His secretary won with the name “BI-LO” which encompassed Frank’s vision.
BI-LO was bought out in 1977 to Ahold, a food conglomerate located in The Netherlands. Ahold also bought Red Food Stores and merged them with BI-LO in 1978. Ahold then went on to acquire Bruno’s Supermarkets and added that as well to its portfolio.
The “BI-LO” brand name was phased out in 2004-2005 and became “Southern Home” with all new packaging. Then, Ahold sold BI-LO and Bruno’s Supermarkets to Lone Star Funds whose specialty is purchasing distressed companies. They promptly sold over 100 BI-LO/Bruno markets and three of the distribution centers in order to focus on renovating its remaining stores and build new ones in markets that offered greater advantage.
In March 2007, Lone Star Funds separated the BI-LO from Bruno’s Supermarkets into its own distinct company. In April, Lone Star decided to put the entire 230-store BI-LO supermarket chain up for sale. The new BI-LO filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in 2009 stating it was necessary due largely in part to the credit crisis. It expected to continue on with business as usual and received a $10,000,000 loan from GE Capital in order to pay salaries, wages, venders and suppliers.
Shortly after an announcement from the Delhaize Group, based in Belgium, to purchase over $4,000,000 of assets from the supermarket chain, BI-LO filed restructuring plans. Lone Star Funds provided the much needed influx of money to keep the Delhaize Group from acquiring the chain.
In 2003, BI-LO redesigned their store image in a successful attempt to draw a more high-end clientele. The resulting Super BI-LO offered a larger choice in healthier, organic and specialty foods.
BI-LO re-emerged from Chapter 11 in early 2010, and was named one of the Top 75 Retailers in 2010 by Supermarket News. It still remains a part of Lone Star Funds but was reported being put up for sale in August of that year with Kroger and Publix showing interest in purchasing.
Headquarters: Mauldin, South Carolina
Number of Stores: 207
Annual Revenue: $2.2 million
Number of Employees: 15,000
Geography: Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee
Special Services: Floral shop, gift cards, DVD rentals, Western Union, Coinstar, lottery tickets, discount tickets, free samples
Southern Home, Clear Value, Walter’s, Signature Deli, Lip-Lickin’ Chicken, Chef’s Catch, Paws, TopCare, Full Circle, Domestix, Electrix, Easy Clix, Academix, World Classics