The Bankruptcy Court for the middle district of Florida yesterday (9 November) confirmed Winn-Dixie Stores' Plan of Reorganisation. The company now expects to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy within 30 days.

Winn-Dixie President and CEO Peter Lynch said: "We are very pleased that the court has confirmed our Plan of Reorganisation and that Winn-Dixie's emergence from Chapter 11 is now just around the corner. This is an exciting time for everyone at the company. We will continue to work hard to build on the turnaround we have started and to accelerate our momentum."

Following a creditor vote, in which all unsecured creditors voted in favour of the plan, the presiding judge, the Honourable Jerry A. Funk, affirmed that the company had met all of the statutory requirements necessary to confirm its reorganisation plan. The plan will become effective and the company will emerge from bankruptcy when all closing conditions to the plan and the company's exit financing have been met.

Winn-Dixie has a commitment of US$725m in exit financing from a consortium led by Wachovia Bank.

The company said that it expects to emerge from Chapter 11 protection with sufficient financing and liquidity to make significant investments in its existing store base, to develop new stores and to position the business to effectively compete in its market.

The company also expects to emerge with only a minimal amount of long-term debt on its balance sheet.

"When Winn-Dixie emerges from bankruptcy, the company will be in a stronger and more financially stable position. We will be able to increase the level of investment in our stores and pursue other initiatives to improve and add value to our business. Our focus will remain on providing outstanding service and products to our customers," Lynch said.