|The message that now appears when you go to Sweetbay's website.|
The Federal Trade Commission just announced today that they approved Winn-Dixie's buyout of Sweetbay Supermarkets, along with Reid's and Harvey's, from Delhaize. This means that the remaining Sweetbay stores in Florida can officially start converting to the Winn-Dixie name, with the Sweetbay name to officially become history by the end of May. Winn-Dixie plans to slowly convert these stores on a rolling basis until that time.
As a part of the FTC approval, Winn-Dixie's parent company will close a total of 13 overlapping stores in the affected regions in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In Florida, three Sweetbays in Naples, Dade City and Zephyrhills, two Harvey's in Green Cove Springs and Tallahassee, and and three Winn-Dixies in St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, and Seffner, will shut down permanently by May, also on a rolling basis.
Winn-Dixie is also divesting an additional 12 stores as a part of the deal with the FTC to approve the buyout of Sweetbay. What I find to be interesting about all of this is that four of the Sweetbays being divested are being sold to Rowe's IGA Markets. The stores Rowe's is set to buy are located in Dunnellon, located in Southwest Marion County, and Wauchula, Lake Palcid and Arcadia, located in the Heartland region of south central Florida. Rowe's IGA Markets, whose 5 other stores are all located in metro Jacksonville, was born out of an acquisition of 7 former Albertsons stores when they pulled out of the Jacksonville area. Two years after Rowe's was founded, they went from six stores (one of the 7 Albertsons was sold off right away) to only one. It'll be interesting to see if Rowe's can pull off running these 4 stores in rural areas so far from their core market after just recently recovering from an awful start (which you can read more about under the Useful Information tab). The four Food Lions Rowe's took over when they pulled out of Florida in 2012 as a way to begin expanding again seem to be doing fine, but then again, those four stores were all located around Jacksonville. Will Rowe's one day become a new major player in Florida's food wars now that they are willing to expand outside of Jacksonville? I know Rob Rowe, founder of Rowe's IGA Markets, said he was looking into expanding more in one news article I read, but I didn't think he would go too far out of Jacksonville, at least this soon.
If you want to read more about these updates of Sweetbay's conversion to Winn-Dixie in much more detail, you can check out these articles from The Tampa Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and Supermarket News, along with Delhaize's official press realease.
UPDATE: Sweetbay's website now recognizes that they will be transitioning to the Winn-Dixie name. You can see more here.