Bankrupt retailer Winn-Dixie Stores Inc has announced that, following a successful auction, it has reached agreement to sell 102 stores to 30 purchasers, the substantial majority of whom intend to operate the locations as food and beverage stores.

These stores are part of the 326 locations that the Company previously announced it intends to sell or close in conjunction with its new "store footprint" strategy. On 21 June, Winn-Dixie reported that it was taking action to strengthen its performance and achieve long-term profitability by focusing on its strongest markets and reducing the size of its store base from 913 stores in the US and the Bahamas to 587 stores.

Earlier this month, Winn-Dixie announced that it had reached preliminary agreement to sell a total of 79 stores to 20 potential buyers, all of which intend to operate these stores on an ongoing basis.

The aggregate purchase price in the agreements for leases and equipment at the 102 stores is approximately $45.6m, an increase of $6.9m from the $38.7m announced previously. This amount does not include inventory to be purchased. Winn-Dixie will seek final Bankruptcy Court approval of these sale agreements at a hearing scheduled for 27-29 July 2005.

"We are pleased with the results of the auction, which increased substantially the value achieved for the Company and also increased the number of locations that will continue to operate as food and beverage stores," said Peter Lynch, president and CEO of Winn-Dixie. "In many cases, the buyers of these stores have agreed to offer employment opportunities for our associates. We intend to work closely with the buyers to ensure that there is a smooth transition for our customers and associates at these locations. We also intend to provide severance and other assistance to the a
associates of closing stores who will not be offered opportunities with new owners."

Winn-Dixie is seeking Court authorization to conduct store-closing sales at the locations that will not be sold as food and beverage stores.