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Potential Buyers Approach Harris Teeter Supermarkets

6:11 PM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- One of the Triad's largest employers is in talks to sell the company and it could mean changes for shoppers. 

Two private equity firms have approached Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc. to possibly buy the grocery chain.

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer John Woodlief at Harris Teeter confirmed the plans.

Woodlief says J.P. Morgan will help facilitate the discussion between Harris Teeter and the potential buyers.

The company has 20 stores in the Triad, which employ about 2,100 people.

According to the Triad Business journal, there hasn't been a change like this in the grocery industry in almost a decade.
Back then, the Harris Teeter store on Lawndale Drive used to be a Bi-Lo grocery store.

Owners sold it to a smaller company, but that didn't last long before Harris Teeter took over.

David Guion, a Harris Teeter shopper, was around when those changes occurred in 2005 and says he hopes his now favorite grocery store will not change if the deal goes through.

"I'd hate to see the same thing happen to Harris Teeter that happened to Bi-Lo. The whole chain in North Carolina went belly-up, to my understanding," he said. Guion explains he's not opposed to a new company taking over as along as his shopping experience doesn't change.

"I hate it because I love Harris Teeter. I mean, it's one of my favorite places to come," another shopper, Renae Williams added. "Who will take over and what will they be like and will they have the quality that Harris Teeter does?"

Catherine Carlock with the Triad Business Journal says the fact that Harris Teeter has confirmed they are in talks with potential buyers means it's highly likely that the deal is far along, though not certain.

So how could this affect you, the shopper?

"It can be difficult to say what, if any changes, consumers will see. A lot of times, what happens is paperwork changes hands and but a lot of the in-store inventory stays the same," Carlock said.

Dr. William Brown at UNCG's business school agrees that things could get complicated if a big name like Kroger or Publix gets in the mix.

The business experts say if one of the large grocers acquire Harris Teeter, they may want to expand their brand. That would mean shoppers will see products, brand and style all change.
Harris Teeter has made it clear that there's "no assurance that these discussions will result in any transactions"

Harris Teeter's VP, Woodlief, said in a company news release that if there is a transaction they cannot talk about timing, price or terms of the sale.

"The Company intends to continue its strategic new store growth plan and maintain the employment of its associates in its stores, and its distribution and manufacturing facilities in Indian Trail, Greensboro, and High Point, North Carolina, as well as at its corporate headquarters in Matthews, North Carolina," he wrote.

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