Bi-Lo is further retrenching its footprint in South Carolina with a plan to sell 38 stores around the state to rival grocer Food Lion.
The deal announced Wednesday includes several supermarkets in or near the Charleston region, including two locations in Summerville and one each in Walterboro, St. George and Edisto Beach.
The sale will leave Bi-Lo with six stores in the tri-county area and about 45 in South Carolina.
Other changes could be on the horizon for the chain, which was started in 1961 in the Upstate. Parent company Southeastern Grocers said Wednesday that it "is actively exploring strategic options" for the other Bi-Lo locations it owns. It did not elaborate but said it is phasing out the Bi-Lo banner.
Financial terms of the Food Lion sale were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in April 2021, when signage will begin to change on storefronts.
As part of the transaction, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers is selling Food Lion another 24 stores in North Carolina and Georgia that operate under the Bi-Lo and Harvey's brands.
Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion said the 62 supermarkets it's buying will add about 4,650 workers to its payroll.
"We are so excited to add these new locations to our more than 630 stores across Georgia and the Carolinas,” Meg Ham, Food Lion's president, said in a written statement. “We’ve been serving customers in these larger regions for almost 60 years."
Southeastern Grocers, which has been struggling in recent years with debt and has closed several Bi-Lo stores in the Charleston region, said the sale is part of "a long-term transformation strategy" that at times requires "difficult decisions."
"Today's transactions are a critical strategic move and and important next step for our continued growth and broader evolution as a business," CEO Anthony Hucker said. "These actions will facilitate greater investment in our remaining footprint."
Food Lion is owned by of Belgium-based conglomerate Ahold Delhaize. It operates 16 grocery stores in the region, from Moncks Corner to Ravenel and the Charleston peninsula. Like Bi-Lo, it has pulled out of the highly competitive Mount Pleasant market.
Food Lion recently began work on a store near along U.S. Highway 78 near Summerville.