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AWG acquires Belle Foods, Rouses to take over six stores

Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. and its group of grocers and operators submitted the winning bid last week at the Belle Foods bankruptcy auction in Birmingham, AL. In the next few weeks, Rouses Markets will take ownership of six former Belle Foods stores from AWG, a retail-owner cooperative of which Rouses Markets is a member.

This is Rouses Markets' first expansion into Alabama. The company currently operates 38 stores in Louisiana and Mississippi. Three new stores in Louisiana were also recently announced.

The Alabama stores are located in Mobile, Gulf Shores, Spanish Fort, Saraland and Theodore. Rouses Markets won't take possession until after the transfer to AWG is complete.

"The stores will already be closed when we take ownership," Donny Rouse, managing partner of Rouses Markets and third-generation owner, said in a press release. "We're going to keep them closed while they undergo multi-million dollar remodeling."

The exact reopening dates for the stores will depend on construction times.

Rouses Markets will begin interviewing current Belle Foods employees tomorrow, and Rouse says he hopes everyone applies to join the Rouses' family.

"The right team members, with the right training, make all of the difference in a customer's shopping experience," said Rouse. "I know people will appreciate the level of training we offer, and the commitment we make to our team members and community."