Shoppers Value

Shoppers Value general manager Clint Caldwell said the Baton Rouge-based chain is looking to hire workers to keep up with increased customer demand in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The parent company and most of its affiliates operating the Baton Rouge-based Shoppers Value grocery store chain across south Louisiana have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and reorganization.

"They plan to reorganize and continue operations," said William Steffes, attorney at The Steffes Firm LLC in Baton Rouge.

Initial court filings were made in mid-November, with additional stores within the chain joining the bankruptcy proceeding this week, citing debt tied to the purchase and rebranding of six former Winn-Dixie locations in 2018, five of which have since closed.

Shoppers Value's business model is touted as a 10% retail mark-up at the register on top of the wholesale price it pays for products, according to its website.

The parent company of Shopper's Value owns and operates 12 grocery stores — more than half of which are in Baton Rouge — and one Food Depot in Bogalusa. It employs more than 600 workers across the Baton Rouge metro area, Lafayette, Bogalusa and Jefferson, records show.

Parent company JHJ Inc. and its affiliated businesses filing for bankruptcy on Nov. 15, with all seeking reorganization, are THG Enterprises LLC, T&S Markets, TSD Markets LLC, Baker Piggly Wiggly LLC, BR Pig LLC, Lafayette Piggly Wiggly LLC, SVFoods Old Hammond LLC and SV Foods Jefferson LLC.

On Dec. 23, SVFoods Avondale, SVFoods Harvey, SVFoods Little Pic, SVFoods Big Pic and SVFoods Westwego joined the bankruptcy filing.

The parent company of Shoppers Value acquired six Winn-Dixie locations from the Southeastern Grocers bankruptcy estate in 2018. Of the six locations acquired, only the Winn-Dixie owned by SVFoods Jefferson is still open. In February, JHJ consulted with attorneys about "addressing certain liabilities associated with affiliates' store closures" and eventually decided in November to move forward with bankruptcy proceedings, records show.

The local discount grocery chain owes more than $7 million to its wholesale distributor and supplier, Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based SuperValu, for promissory notes underwritten between May 2016 and November 2018, according to bankruptcy documents. The Minnesota-based food distributor was acquired by competitor Providence, Rhode Island-based United Natural Foods Inc. in a $2.9 billion deal completed in October 2018. 

"The vast majority of the indebtedness was incurred for the purpose of purchasing inventory for multiple grocery stores formerly operating under the name Winn-Dixie," according to the bankruptcy filing, which said that the company defaulted on its loan from SuperValu several months ago and attempted to negotiate the loan outside of court. 

The value of the collateral for the SuperValu loans is greater than what is owed to the business; its inventory is worth more than $8 million, records show.

The company’s total profit was $223,642 a month across its footprint on $6.8 million in sales, records show.

The value of the real and personal property of BR Pig LLC was $5 million as of mid-December, but it owes $14 million in liabilities. Inside of that figure, $10 million is secured by property and $4.4 million are unsecured claims. 

Among major creditors, Lafayette-based IberiaBank is owed $2.5 million for a loan in addition to a $427,614 line of credit, both of which are secured claims backed by a Government Street shopping center in Baton Rouge. IberiaBank also is owed $3.3 million for a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan in 2018.

Major unsecured creditors include Hammond-based Scariano Brothers, a wholesale meat business, and Breaux Bridge-based Ocean Select Seafood LLC. The two are owed $102,573 and $34,187, respectively. 

Garnett "Skipper" Jones is president of Shoppers Value and could not be reached for comment. 

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Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.