Bi-Lo Sweetgrass Corner Mount Pleasant closing

The last Bi-Lo grocery store in Mount Pleasant on U.S. Highway 17 near the Isle of Palms connector is slated to close in the latest round of cost-cutting by parent company Southeastern Grocers of Jacksonville. Warren L. Wise/Staff

Struggling supermarket chain Southeastern Grocers confirmed a new round of closings Thursday, including its last Bi-Lo store in Mount Pleasant and nine others across South Carolina.

The company plans to shutter 22 locations across its footprint, including the Bi-Lo store in Sweetgrass Corner Shopping Center at U.S. Highway 17 and the Isle of Palms connector in Mount Pleasant, spokesman Joe Caldwell said.

Eight other Bi-Lo stores and one Harveys supermarket also will close in the Palmetto State, he said.

The Mount Pleasant closing will leave the Charleston area with 10 Bi-Lo stores between Moncks Corner and Edisto Island. It's the seventh Bi-Lo to close in the Lowcountry since 2016. Another was converted to Piggly Wiggly last year.

"We realize that the closure of an underperforming store in your community can be challenging," Caldwell said in a statement. "We do not take these decisions lightly, and only make this tough choice after careful consideration of its impact on our associates and our customers has been made."

The Mount Pleasant location is expected to close by March 25. Liquidation discounts can be expected over the next month.

Bi-Lo's departure marks the third grocer to leave the affluent but brutally competitive East Cooper market. Food Lion closed its last store in the Charleston suburb in 2012, and Piggly Wiggly exited the next year after running into financial trouble.

The area is now served by Harris Teeter, Publix, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Aldi. Newcomers Lowes Foods and Publix GreenWise are expected to open over the next few months.

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The financially troubled Southeastern filed for bankruptcy reorganization in March 2018 and announced it would shutter 94 underperforming stores, including 19 in South Carolina and four in the Charleston area. The measures were meant to trim the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company's debt by about $500 million.

When it emerged from bankruptcy in May, the chain had 582 stores and began upgrading several of them.

Southeastern Grocers owns Bi-Lo, Harveys, Winn-Dixie and Fresco y Mas supermarkets. The company does not have any Winn-Dixie or Fresco y Mas stores in South Carolina.

Bi-Lo, which was started in the South Carolina Upstate, previously filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 and emerged a year later after a private equity investor bought the chain. It was then combined with Winn-Dixie and Harveys under the Southeastern Grocers umbrella.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.