From The Gainesville Sun - By Kortney Sweeney
When the clock strikes midnight on April 12, the employees of Gainesville's Sweetbay Supermarket won't turn into pumpkins, but they will become Winn-Dixie employees.
Sweetbay will close at 1 p.m. April 12 and will open at 7 a.m. April 18 as Winn-Dixie.
Bi-Lo Holdings, Winn-Dixie's parent company, announced May 28 that it had entered into a $265 million agreement with Delhaize Group, Sweetbay's parent company, to acquire substantially all of its Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid's supermarkets. On Feb. 25, both companies announced the Federal Trade Commission had given them approval to move forward with the transaction.
The Sweetbay conversions started Saturday and will occur in waves to be complete by May 31.
The Gainesville store at 2002 SW 34th St. in Gainesville has 80 employees. They will all retain their jobs after the transition.
Sweetbay's brands, including My Essentials, Hannaford and HOME 360, will be phased out and replaced by Winn-Dixie's labels, said John Turner, director of center store merchandising for Sweetbay.
Gainesville store manager Patrick Rogers said that, starting Wednesday, Sweetbay's brands of dry goods will be discounted 25 percent for a few days before subsequently being marked down 50 percent and then 75 percent. Almost all perishable goods will be marked down starting April 6 using the same gradual discount formula.
Any Sweetbay brand products left over after the sale will be donated to Bread of the Mighty food bank, he said.
Greeters will be at the door while the store is closed to provide information about the transition, and any customer can sign up for Winn-Dixie's reward card and fuelperks program, Rogers said.
The new Winn-Dixie will have a grand opening April 23, and Bell said there will be a variety of advertising tactics to celebrate the event. Any deals or discounts are still being worked out.
The two nearby Winn-Dixie stores have each committed about 15 associates to come to
Sweetbay starting April 12 to help with training and getting the store ready for the transition.
Rogers said he thinks the addition of another Winn-Dixie in Gainesville will help out all three stores because they will have stronger marketing within the marketplace.
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