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- 2013 - May - 15th -

Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie transfers logistics, related jobs to C&S Wholesale Grocers

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

Bi-Lo Holding LLC, the parent company of Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie, announced Tuesday that C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. will provide warehouse, transportation and most procurement services for all 480 Winn-Dixie and 206 Bi-Lo stores.

As part of the agreement, employees in Winn-Dixie's six distribution centers and the functions that support them will become employees of C&S "with minimal change to existing associates or their wages and benefits," according to a news release.

The transition will be complete by the end of the year.

"We thank our Winn-Dixie distribution center associates for their contributions over the years," Randall Onstead, Bi-Lo Holding president and CEO, said in the release.

Asked how many employees would transition from Winn-Dixie to C&S, Brian Wright, company senior director of communications and community, said that information has not been released.

"While we are saying goodbye to them as part of the Winn-Dixie family, we are very pleased that this transition provides them with continued employment," Onstead said.

Keene, N.H.-based C&S has provided the services for Bi-Lo stores since 2005. The new agreement covers Winn-Dixie.

The combined Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie has about 60,000 employees, of which 42,000 work for Winn-Dixie, according to a Winn-Dixie executive who spoke last week to the Southside Business Men's Club.

Bi-Lo LLC bought Winn-Dixie in March 2012. Bi-Lo Holding LLC is the parent for Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie. Bi-Lo moved its headquarters from Greenville, S.C., to Jacksonville.

C&S distributes food to supermarkets, retail stores and military bases across the country and serves about 4,000 stores in 12 states, according to the news release.

Winn-Dixie has distribution centers in Jacksonville, Baldwin, Miami, Orlando, Montgomery, Ala., and Hammond, La.

According to Forbes, C&S has revenue of $21.7 billion and 12,700 employees. It is No. 10 on the business and financial publication's list of "America's Largest Private Companies."

"We believe this deal will allow us to leverage the experience and buying power of C&S so that we can continue to reinvest in our company and focus on selling products at a good value to our customers," Onstead said in the release.

As the Daily Record reported Monday, Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie began cutting $100 million in labor costs after the merger a year ago.

Those cuts came through the merging of headquarters functions and store-level changes that included adding more managers and altering the ratio of full-time to part-time positions.

Winn-Dixie had 60 percent full-time to 40 percent part-time associates, with the goal to switch that to 60 percent part-time to 40 percent full-time, Winn-Dixie's Robert Devine told the business club.

Making the switch allows for more flexibility in scheduling part-time employees to allow for better customer response and satisfaction, Devine, Winn-Dixie vice president of field human resources and team member relations, said in his presentation.

In addition, Winn-Dixie sold its 15500 W. Beaver St. warehouse facility in late April for almost $100 million as part of a sale-leaseback transaction with ARC WDJKVFL001 LLC in the care of Charlotte, N.C.-based American Realty Capital.

Asked how the C&S deal affects cuts in labor costs, Wright said the C&S announcement "is completely unrelated."

He said the $100 million in cuts related to "the merger of the Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie support centers, as well as the Winn-Dixie store leadership restructure."

Regarding the sale-leaseback deal, Wright said in April that "companies monetize their assets so they can re-invest in the company," but that the C&S announcement was unrelated.

The release said the C&S deal was a long-term agreement, but did not specify the length of the deal.

dchapman@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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