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JACKSONVILLE, FL-Locally based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., once ranked among the top 75 corporations on the Fortune 500 list with 1,100 stores, has sold leases to 30 purchasers for an estimated 4.08 million sf at 102 stores it will be closing as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization.

The total sale price for the leases was $45.6 million, or $6.9 million more than the grocer had previously anticipated it would receive for about 3.16 million sf at 79 stores, the company confirms in a prepared statement. US Bankruptcy Judge Jerry Funk has to approve the deals July 27-29 in Jacksonville hearings.

The two-day auction lease sales, completed Tuesday in New York, produced 23 additional sales. Winn-Dixie won’t disclose the buyers’ names until the court approves the transactions, the company says. The company also wants the court to approve 224 additional store leases that were not part of the July 18-19 auction. The 224 leases would be sold at auctions beginning Aug. 1 and ending by mid-September.

After sales and closings, Winn-Dixie will operate 587 stores in the Southeast, the Bahamas and the US. The company operated 1,100 stores 10 years ago. Winn-Dixie voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors under the US Bankruptcy Code Feb. 21, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. The company listed assets of $2.2 billion and debt of $1.9 billion.

Winn-Dixie stores are generally in the 40,000-sf to 50,000-sf range, according to industry sources. As the lead anchor at numerous shopping centers, the company has often been in the favorable position of demanding and receiving the lowest rent at the centers, generally under $10 per sf, Orlando area retail brokers who have done deals with the grocer tell GlobeSt.com.

Peter Lynch, Winn-Dixie’s president and CEO, says he is “pleased” with the auction sale results. The lease sales “increased substantially the value achieved for the company and also increased the number of locations that will continue to operate as food and beverage (liquor) stores.” Lynch says many of the buyers will offer jobs to about 22,500 Winn-Dixie employees affected by the store closings.

Winn-Dixie had preliminary contracts with about 20 buyers before the auction. Among them were Supervalu Retailers of Minneapolis which bid $9.5 million for 37 stores in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia; Bi-Lo of Greenville, SC, $9 million for 20 stores in Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina; and Harris Teeter Inc. of Matthews, NC, $16.75 million for nine North Carolina stores.

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