Express checkout: Hilton Head Food Lion to close within 30 days

gmartin@islandpacket.comJanuary 12, 2012 

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The Food Lion on Hilton Head Island is one of 113 under-performing franchises -- including 13 others in South Carolina -- that will close within 30 days, according to a news release from the company's Salisbury, N.C. headquarters.

The store, on Palmetto Bay Road on the island's south end, opened in May 1990. It has about 35 to 40 employees, according to a spokeswoman at the store's corporate headquarters.

It's the only Food Lion in Beaufort County scheduled to close; the store's two locations in Bluffton and a third in Beaufort will not be affected.

The store closings are "primarily in markets in which the company has the least store density," according to the release.

Dave Spehr, one of the owners of Bargains & Treasures, an antique and second-hand furniture store near the Hilton Head Food Lion, said he was concerned by the news.

"Any business that closes always has an effect on the businesses around it," he said.

Delhaize America, the chain's Belgium-based owners, also announced it will close seven under-performing Bloom stores and six Bottom Dollar Food franchises in overlapping Food Lion markets.

The Bloom brand also will be retired, and its surviving stores converted to Food Lions.

"Today's actions will continue to solidify our U.S. operations and enable our company to focus on our successful brand strategy repositioning at Food Lion and the expansion of Bottom Dollar Food in new markets," Delhaize America CEO Ron Hodge said in a statement.

About 4,900 employees nationwide will lose their jobs. The company has pledged to provide severance to eligible employees and work with government to help ease their transition.

"Food Lion is focused on repositioning our business for future growth," president Cathy Green Burns said in the release.

In 2009, Delhaize was in talks to buy Mauldin-based Bi-Lo, which had filed for bankruptcy protection earlier that year. In a reversal of fortune, Bi-Lo acquired Winn-Dixie for $560 million last month.

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