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Winn-Dixie parent emerges from bankruptcy vowing store makeovers

After filing for bankruptcy in March, the company that owns Winn-Dixie has emerged with its debt more than halved, its CEO announced Thursday.

Southeastern Grocers (SEG) has spent that last two-and-a-half months closing under-performing stores while going in and out of a Delaware courtroom as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

The Jacksonville-based grocery chain company that owns Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más, Bi-Lo and Harveys Supermarkets, has closed nearly 100 stores and cut its debt by about $600 million.

"This marks a significant chapter in our story," Southeastern Grocers CEO Anthony Hucker said in a recent interview with the Times. "Restructuring our debt was a huge part of correcting our business."

In Tampa Bay, that meant shutting down four Hillsborough County stores, one in Pinellas and another in Pasco. SEG also switched two of its Tampa Winn-Dixie stores under its Hispanic banner — Fresco y Más — which had previously only been in the greater Miami area.

Read more:A first-look at the Tampa Fresco y Más stores replacing Winn-Dixie

The company still operates more than 575 stores across seven states. About $522 million of its debt has been exchanged for equity, according to SEG.

The court held a confirmation for the grocery store conglomerate's restructuring plan on May 14. It typically takes the court about 15 days to give official approval.

As part of its reorganization, SEG is updating about 100 locations. Hucker said. Twenty eight have been completed already, including Winn-Dixie locations in Carrollwood, Riverview, Temple Terrace and Valrico.The stores have new color schemes, bolder signs, expanded organic offerings and more grab-and-go meals. The Hyde Park location in Tampa was the first to get a major overhaul back in 2016. Hucker said as part of the chain's new vision, SEG will take a "nimble approach" to assess shoppers' needs. As the Plenti points program comes to end, SEG will launch a new loyalty program in July. In a competitive space as smaller speciality market concepts take hold, Hucker said he's confident SEG is emerging with a solid financial foundation that allows for growth. "Our purpose is that our associates and our customers can always count on us," Hucker said. "We're a people company that happens to sell groceries and we've made big strides in how we communicate with each other."Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

As part of its reorganization, SEG is updating about 100 locations. Hucker said. Twenty eight have been completed already, including Winn-Dixie locations in Carrollwood, Riverview, Temple Terrace and Valrico.

The stores have new color schemes, bolder signs, expanded organic offerings and more grab-and-go meals. The Hyde Park location in Tampa was the first to get a major overhaul back in 2016.

Hucker said as part of the chain's new vision, SEG will take a "nimble approach" to assess shoppers' needs. As the Plenti points program comes to end, SEG will launch a new loyalty program in July.

In a competitive space as smaller speciality market concepts take hold, Hucker said he's confident SEG is emerging with a solid financial foundation that allows for growth.

"Our purpose is that our associates and our customers can always count on us," Hucker said. "We're a people company that happens to sell groceries and we've made big strides in how we communicate with each other."

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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