Belle Foods and C&S Wholesale Grocers have reached an agreement for debtor-in-possession financing to be extended by C&S to Belle, which has been approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama. As part of the DIP Financing arrangement, Belle agreed to the motion filed today with the Bankruptcy Court seeking approval to sell 44 stores. The Bankruptcy Court previously granted a July 2, 2013 motion to close or sell the company’s 13 other stores.
Belle has agreed to sell the 44 stores because it believes the sale of the stores presents the best opportunity to maximize value for the benefit of its creditors, company officials said. Bill and Jeff White, the owners of Belle, have retained the right to submit bids for the purchase of the stores. C&S has agreed to continue supplying the stores, ensuring that the stores will remain open to serve Belle’s customers. The DIP Financing and the C&S supply commitment extend through at least October 4, 2013.
Belle’s goal is to maximize the health of the individual stores, officials say. “At this point, this is the best way to serve our customers, preserve jobs for our employees and support our communities,” says Bill White, owner and president of Belle. “We expect these stores to be sold as on-going operations and will work with any new owners to see that our people remain employed. We have some of the best and most experienced grocery professionals in the south working in our stores.”
Belle has agreed that a Chief Restructuring Officer will be employed to assist the company during the bankruptcy process. The CRO will maximize the value of the stores for all parties involved. Bill and Jeff White have agreed to stay with the company for a period of time in order to assist with the CRO’s transition, and have also agreed to thereafter remain available to assist and consult with the CRO as needed.
White concluded his statement by saying, “It would be great if Belle Foods were to exist in some form or fashion at the end of this process, but at this point, our focus is on our customers and teammates.” Customers will continue to see the same smiling employees and the same great selection and convenience as the stores move through the sale process, White added. Currently all of the 44 remaining Belle-owned stores are open for business and ready to serve their customers.