BI-LO continues to squelch sale rumors

Bi-Lo's chief executive said Wednesday the Mauldin-based grocer, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in May, has been gaining market share this year, and said reports that the company is for sale are just rumors.

Michael Byars said the company's market share has grown in eight of its nine operating periods.

"We go into bankruptcy, there were rumors about liquidation," he said of the company, which has 15,000 employees. "We were able to improve the business, come out of Chapter 11, one of the few retailers to do it in the past five years. We feel very good about that."

He said the company's market-share results and comparable-store sales "are the best they've been in 10 years."

Bi-Lo has 207 stores in four states, including several in Beaufort County.

Lone Star Funds, the Dallas-based private equity firm that owns Bi-Lo, repeatedly has declined comment on the reports of a possible Bi-Lo sale.