ATLANTA-Swifty Serve, a five-year-old, privately owned gasoline and convenience store chain, first under Chapter 11 protection and now in Chapter 7 (liquidation), has asked a US Bankruptcy Court judge for permission to shed most of its assets. The real estate held by the troubled chain totals 547 convenience stores and an estimated 6.56 million sf throughout the Southeast.

Judge Catherine Carruthers is scheduled to make her ruling Jan. 7. Swifty Serve’s October Chapter 11 petition listed assets of about $75 million and liabilities of $125 million. The chain’s stores have been closed for the past three months. The company operated 100 stores in Georgia totaling about 1.2 million sf.

Court records show the chain has received firm offers aggregately valued at about $152 million or $355,972 per store on 427 locations. Swifty Serve co-founders Clay Hamner and Wayne Rogers have tried, unsuccessfully, to buy back 200 stores for about $90 million or $450,000 per location.

Swifty Serve’s rise in the convenience store industry began with the purchase of the 62-store Swannee Swifty chain for $5 million or about $80,645 per store, according to a published report. In 1998, Swifty Serve acquired the 488-store E-Z Serve group in Houston for $54 million or about $110,655 per store.

Court records show Swifty Serve posted income of $610 million in 2000 and $813 million in 2001. But this year the company’s profits tumbled and debt rose to $125 million.

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