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Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc

Winn-Dixie

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. is an American supermarket chain based in Jacksonville, Florida. Winn-Dixie has ranked number 20 in the 2007 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2006 fiscal year estimated sales of $7.5 billion by Supermarket News and was ranked the 43rd largest retailer in the United States based on 2006 revenues by Stores Magazine. Winn-Dixie currently operates 521 stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi. The company has existed under its present name since 1955 and can date its roots back to 1925.

Prior to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Winn-Dixie was listed in the S&P 500 and had been traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "WIN" since February 18, 1952. The company is currently traded under the symbol "WINN" on the NASDAQ. The bankruptcy also left the chain with fewer stores than it had in the late 1960s.

They are known for their private label Chek brand soft drinks, which are produced in over 20 different flavors plus diet and caffeine-free varieties — one of the widest assortments. The company also sells snacks under the private-label brand Crackin' Good Snacks. They have also been known as "The Beef People". Winn-Dixie now uses the slogan "getting better all the time" in its advertising and print media. Winn Dixie has also appeared in the children's book Because of Winn-Dixie.

History

Beginnings

Winn-Dixie was founded and built up by William Milton Davis and his sons Artemus Darius Davis, James Elsworth Davis, Milton Austin Davis and Tine Wayne Davis. William Davis started in business in Burley, Idaho, where he bought a general store in 1914 that he later renamed Davis Mercantile. As was common then, he sold most goods on credit. The advent of cash-only grocery stores in the 1920s hurt Davis's business, as the new stores offered lower prices and larger selections.

In 1925, William Davis borrowed $10,000 from his father and moved to Miami, Florida, where he purchased the Rockmoor Grocery. In 1927, the company was renamed Table Supply, and four more stores were opened. In 1931, the Davis family bought the Lively Stores chain for $10,000, to create a chain of thirty-three Table Supply stores across Florida from Miami to Tampa. William Milton Davis died in 1934, leaving his four sons in charge of the company.

In 1939, the Davis brothers bought fifty-one percent of Winn-Lovett, a chain of seventy-three stores. In 1944, the brothers adopted Winn-Lovett as the company name and moved the company headquarters to Jacksonville. Winn-Lovett purchased the Steiden Stores chain of thirty-one stores in Kentucky in 1945, and Margaret Ann Stores, with forty-six stores in Florida, in 1949. In 1952, Winn-Lovett became the first industrial corporation based in Florida to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Acquisitions

Winn-Lovett continued to grow by acquiring other chains, including Penney Stores in Mississippi, and Ballentine Stores and Eden Stores, both in South Carolina, all in 1955. Also in 1955, Winn-Lovett bought the 117-store Dixie Home chain, and changed its name to Winn-Dixie. In 1956, Winn-Dixie bought Ketner-Milner Stores in North Carolina, Hill Stores in Louisiana and Mississippi, and King Stores in Georgia. The last purchase of a chain was in 1967, when Winn-Dixie bought the City Markets chain in The Bahamas.

Involvements

Although Winn-Dixie Stores has been a publicly owned corporation since 1952, the Davis family has always maintained control of the corporation. As of February 2005, when the company entered bankruptcy, the heirs of William Milton Davis still held about thirty-five percent of Winn-Dixie stock.

The Davis brothers also became involved in Florida state politics, supporting conservative causes. It is reported that their financial support helped George Smathers beat incumbent U.S. Senator Claude Pepper in 1950. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Donald Regan is reported to have said of his financial guru, James E. Davis: "When J.E. calls, I listen." It is reported that after reading Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, James E. Davis began a program of Winn-Dixie supporting historically Black colleges and universities.

In the 90's Winn Dixie gave a generous contribution to the Boy Scouts of America of the Central Florida Council renamed Camp La-No Che the "Winn-Dixie Scout Reservation".

Winn-Dixie is involved in their hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., including being considered the official supermarket of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars. Some Jacksonville-area stores give away Jaguars tickets during the NFL season.

Financial difficulties

In 2003, when the chain had over 1000 stores, the company's stock was the worst-performing of the S&P 500. In April 2004, Winn-Dixie announced the closure of 156 stores, including all 111 stores located in the Midwest. Included were over twenty stores that had operated under the Thriftway name in and around Cincinnati, Ohio; they had been purchased by Winn-Dixie in 1995. The company had been hit hard by competition, especially from Publix and Wal-Mart. Another forty stores in the Atlanta area were converted to their Save Rite Grocery Warehouse brand, as an alternative to store closure. Also, all of the stores in North Carolina and in South Carolina closed.

Bankruptcy

On February 22, 2005, Winn-Dixie filed for bankruptcy. On June 21, it announced the sale or closure of 326 stores, resulting in the loss of over 22,000 jobs. Once the restructuring had completed, Winn-Dixie was to operate in the Bahamas, throughout Florida, and in four of the Deep South states, including the southeastern half of Louisiana, the southeast corner of Mississippi, most of Alabama, and the southwest and coastal corners of Georgia.

On February 28, 2006, thirty-five more stores were announced as being sold or closed within the coming months, with the Central and South Florida areas being the most affected. On March 31, it was announced that the chain will sell its twelve Bahamian locations, which had been operated by a wholly owned subsidiary, W-D, Limited, under the names City Market and Winn-Dixie.

On June 29, 2006, Winn-Dixie announced that it had filed a plan of reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. The company emerged from Chapter 11 protection on November 21, 2006 in a much stronger financial position. Their bankruptcy case is being handled in the Jacksonville area by Steve Busey and Cyndi Jackson of the law firm, Smith, Hulsey, & Busey, and by the New York firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Much of the store's difficulties, some commentators observe, are due to the emergence of Wal-Mart as the nation's leading grocer during the late-1990s and early-2000s, especially in the chain's southeastern heartland. Also, Florida's biggest supermarket chain, Publix, hurt the chain.

Turnaround

Since emerging out of bankruptcy in November 2006, Winn-Dixie has planned a number of incentives to improve performance, including a multi-million dollar plan to remodel the entire store base over several years. The stores that have been remodeled have seen an increase in the size of the average transaction. President Peter Lynch was awarded a two million dollar bonus to remain with the company following a successful restructure.

Brands

Winn-Dixie has run over 60 private label brands over the years. In 2003 the company cut the number down to a three tier system of brands: the "Prestige" brand for upscale private label products, "Winn-Dixie" for its mainstream items, and "Thrifty Maid" for its value items. In 2007, all three brands received redesigned packaging with plans to replace the "Prestige" brand with "Winn & Lovett"..

The manufacturer code portion of the UPC remains 21140 across its three brands.

Pop culture trivia

  • The children's novel Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is about a dog who is found in a Winn-Dixie supermarket. The book was adapted into a movie of the same name, which was released in 2005.
  • In the song "Got Money" by Lil Wayne featuring T-Pain, the opening line is "I need a Winn-Dixie grocery bag full of money, right now, to the V.I.P. section."
  • In July of 2008, Jarvis Greene, an associate at a Winn-Dixie in Brunswick,Ga, created the website Storepals.com to be used as a type of social networking service for Winn-Dixie associates. The website is currently in its beta stage and can be found at http://www.storepals.com. Jarvis' profile on the site can be found at http://www.storepals.com/jarvis. Jarvis is currently looking for beta testers. The website's theme and appearance is based on Winn-Dixie's colors.

References

External links

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