Advocate staff photo by Rusty Costanza -- Rouses has a number of stores, including this one in Gretna.

Rouses Markets is acquiring the nine locations of LeBlanc's Food Stores, a move that will increase the company's presence in Baton Rouge.

The deal will give Thibodaux-based Rouses 54 locations, including 10 in metro Baton Rouge. Financial details were not disclosed. 

Donny Rouse, managing partner of Rouses, said his family and the LeBlancs have similar values and a dedication to buying local and supporting local fishermen and farmers. "This really is a perfect fit," he said.

The deal had been in the works since the summer. While Rouses has grown since 2007 though acquisitions of Sav-A-Center, Choice Supermarkets and Belle Foods, the deal with LeBlanc's is a little different.

"This is not a turnaround," Rouse said. "None of the stores are in poor condition. The LeBlancs have done a great job operating them and they hired great team members. That makes it a little easier to go forward." 

The LeBlanc's stores will undergo some changes. Plans call for some remodeling, expanding the perishable and seafood departments and adding rooms to boil seafood. 

All of the current LeBlanc's employees will have the option to remain with Rouses. Rouse said he doesn't know yet if there will be any additional hiring to staff the expanded departments. 

"We won't know until we get into the stores," he said. "They were kind of our competitors so we weren't able to get into the stores and study them."

Rouse said the LeBlanc's stores will be rebranded as Rouses by the end of October. 

The LeBlanc family has been in the grocery business for more than 100 years. L.C. LeBlanc started the chain in 1961 in Gonzales. 

LeBlanc’s has two stores in Gonzales, and one each in Baton Rouge, Prairieville, Zachary, Donaldsonville, Plaquemine, Plattenville and Hammond.

In 2013, the company started rebranding some of its stores with the Frais Marché concept, emphasizing organic produce, prepared foods and specialty Cajun meat dishes. There are now five Frais Marche stores.

In a prepared statement announcing the sale, owners Marcy and Randy LeBlanc thanked their customers and employees for their years of service and dedication. "The continued success of the supermarket operations we built are now with an established company well positioned to compete in a competitive retail environment," the family said. 

Marcy LeBlanc will stay on for several months to help with the transition and make sure that Rouses doesn't miss out on any important community partnerships or items that customers want, Rouse said. 

Rouses was founded 66 years ago by Anthony J. Rouse Sr., Donny Rouse’s grandfather. The company now has stores across South Louisiana, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and South Alabama.

Rouses currently has stores on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge and Juban Crossing in Denham Springs. The Juban Crossing store is temporarily closed because of flooding. Rouse said a third Baton Rouge area location is in the works. "We should be able to announce something in a couple of weeks," he said.     

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.