Belle Foods LLC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy July 1, and the United States Bankruptcy Court of Northern Alabama has approved the company’s plan for reorganization, which includes the closure of 13 of their 57 markets located in three states. The stores to close include Food World locations in Pensacola and Mobile, but do not include the Atmore market located at 161 Lindberg Ave.
Belle Foods filed for relief from its creditors with the court of the $42 million in debt it has amassed since acquiring the chain of markets from Southern Family Markets in 2012. The stores were all part of the Food World / Bruno’s chain that had previously filed for bankruptcy before being acquired by Southern Family Markets.
Belle Foods founder William White and son Jeff White founded the Birmingham based company in 2012 specifically to acquire the Food World chain of markets, according to a published report in Progressive Grocer Magazine. At the time, it was viewed as a way to keep the small to mid-sized markets open.
Income projections have fallen short of expectations, according to documents filed with the court, necessitating the restructuring. Reasons cited include faulty accounting practices, a downturn in the economy following the recent hike in payroll taxes and problems in its lending structure.
The 13 markets scheduled to close will be sold along with any assets to settle outstanding debts.
The closure list includes Food World locations in Pensacola, Niceville and Mary Esther in Florida. In Alabama, Food World locations in Mobile, Homewood, Florence, Hueytown, Gadsden and Decatur will close, and a Piggly Wiggly in Tifton, Georgia will close.