Competition, Debt Faulted in Bankruptcies of Two Major Food Retailers

Two major grocery store companies announced bankruptcy this week, sparking fears that the "retail apocalypse" has expanded to food retailers.
March 22, 2018, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Felix Mizioznikov

Caitlin Dewey reports: "Less than a year after Amazon bought Whole Foods, shaking food retailers to their core, the so-called 'grocery wars' have racked up their first two casualties: Tops Markets and Southeastern Grocers."

"Tops, a 56-year-old chain with 169 stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, filed for bankruptcy late last month following years of mounting debt," according to Dewey. "Southeastern, which owns more than 600 Winn-Dixie, Harvey’s and BI-LO stores across seven states in the Southeast, announced a refinancing agreement on March 15 and says it will file for bankruptcy by April."

Dewey describes the state of the grocery industry as one of disruption, as competition from companies like Dollar General and Amazon pinch older companies. Another angle to the Tops Markets and Southeastern Grocers story is the amount of debt the two companies are carrying as a result of management by private equity firms—a challenge the grocers have in common with many of the other retailers that have been struck by bankruptcy in recent years.

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Published on Thursday, March 22, 2018 in The Washington Post
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