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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 6, 202004:00 PM EST

Save A Lot closes three Northeast Florida stores, a fourth expected

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The discount grocer is the third national chain to shut stores in region.

Another grocery retailer, Save A Lot, is closing some area stores.

The discount grocery chain closed at least three stores in Northeast Florida since December.

Those are in Southgate Plaza and the Edgewood Avenue Shopping Center in Jacksonville and at Tuesday Morning Plaza in Orange Park.

A fourth closing is expected.

The Jacksonville Daily Record was told that employees were notified at the Beauclerc Village store at 9742 Old St. Augustine Road the store would close Feb. 22. Landlord Saglo Development could not be reached immediately for comment.

A Save A Lot representative said the afternoon of Feb. 6 he would return a call with whatever information he could share.

Save A Lot has at least nine remaining stores operating in Northeast Florida.

Southgate Plaza landlord representative Frank Reinstine said Feb. 6 Save A Lot's lease remains in effect until May for the 15,000-square-foot store it leases at 3556 Beach Blvd.

Austin Kay with NAI Hallmark represents the Edgewood Avenue Shopping Center and said the store at 3118 Edgewood Ave. W. closed two weeks ago. He said the rent was paid through the end of the month and he is seeking a tenant to fill the 16,230-square-foot space.

"The landscape is changing with shopping behaviors and a new generation coming into the fold with more buying power," said Kay, who is vice president and retail specialist with NAI Hallmark.

Kay said the Save A Lot was built in 2012 in part of a former Food Lion grocery store.

In Orange Park, a neighboring business said the Save A Lot at 311-4 Blanding Blvd. closed about a week ago. Site plans show it is 15,050 square feet.

Save A Lot, based in suburban St. Louis, announced Jan. 3 it “reached an agreement with a substantial majority of its lenders to recapitalize the business and deleverage its balance sheet.”

Save A Lot said it will receive $138 million in capital to strengthen the business “and provide financial flexibility.”

“The agreement with our lenders is an important step in securing Save A Lot’s long-term success,” said CEO Kenneth McGrath.

He called it “a significant statement of confidence in our business and gives us the appropriate levels of capital to compete effectively.”

The agreement, which was approved by lenders representing 67% of the company’s term loan credit agreement, provides for a debt reduction of more than $400 million.

Save A Lot said it expects to complete the process in the first quarter.

Save A Lot was founded in 1977 and has more than 1,100 corporate and licensed stores in 33 states and 14 wholesale distribution centers.

The Northeast Florida closings coincide with two national natural and organic food retailers shutting some or all of their stores.

Lucky's Market filed for bankruptcy reorganization and is closing 33 of its 39 stores, including two in Northeast Florida.

Publix Super Markets Inc. will take over five Lucky's leases, including one in Neptune Beach. Lucky's has not announced who will take the Oakleaf store lease.

Earth Fare is closing its 50 stores, including two in Jacksonville and one in St. Johns County.

“It's a correction,” Reinstine said of the grocery closings. “There are probably going to be more.”

He said that the chains remaining open will benefit.

“Southeastern Grocers is in a good spot. They've got some potential,” he said of the Jacksonville-based company whose banners include Winn-Dixie. SEG announced it will take five Lucky's leases in Florida outside Jacksonville.

Reinstine said Lakeland-based Publix and Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart are the area industry giants, and that discount chain Aldi, based in Germany, also is doing well.

Save A Lot is a discounter.

“It's one less grocery store for those customers looking for value,” Reinstine said.

“It's kind of a shame.”

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