MILLEDGEVILLE — The two Milledgeville Belle Foods grocery stores are among several in Georgia that are officially operating under HAC Inc, a regional supermarket chain based in Oklahoma, as of Tuesday.
The two Milledgeville locations will operate under the Piggly Wiggly brand.
HAC Inc Internal Audit Manager Kathy Brakefield and a team of around 55 HAC Inc employees traveled from Oklahoma earlier this week to begin the transition at the Piggly Wiggly store off North Columbia Street. Associated Wholesale Grocers, the Nashville-based wholesale company that now supplies the new stores, employees are also helping with the conversion.
“The store will stay open, except we will offer more and better services, and you will see a lot of different items on the shelves. We took off items off the shelves that we’re not buying anymore and put them on discount,” Brakefield said. “Everyone has been assigned duties. We are cleaning the store, redoing produce, redoing the front end, and overall turn into a HAC Inc store with a positive environment.”
HAC Inc (Homeland Acquisition Corporation) acquired 10 Belle Foods stores in Georgia and one in Alabama, with locations in Milledgeville, Monroe, Dawson, Macon, Cochran, Eastman, Gordon, East Dublin and Warner Robins as well as in Troy, Ala. The stores operate under multiple banners including Piggly Wiggly, Belle Foods, Food World and Southern Family Market, ranging in size from 20,000 to 45,000 square-feet.
“We’re thrilled to be here and still maintain our jobs,” said Milton Walker, store manager of the Piggly Wiggly off North Columbia Street.
The stores began transitioning over to the HAC group Tuesday and the transition will continue to take place one store at a time within the next two weeks.
“You will still see the same happy, smiling faces here,” Brakefield said of the current 44 employees at the northside Piggly Wiggly. “The new district manager is Marty Kaufman, who is from Oklahoma and will be moving here to be over all 11 stores.”
The local grocery chains will remain open at normal business hours, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
The two local Piggly Wiggly stores underwent a name change last year when they were bought out by Belle Foods. The company filed for Chapter 11 business reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in early July.
HAC Inc currently operates under five banners, including Homeland, United Supermarkets, Country Mart, Super Save and Super Plaza. The company is employee-owned and with the new locations will add 500 new team members. With the addition of the 11 stores, HAC Inc will operate 87 stores throughout Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Georgia and Alabama.
“I personally am very excited and enthused about the potential of these stores,” said HAC Inc. CEO Darryl Fitzgerald via press release. “The Georgia and Alabama stores are full of dedicated, long-term associates who only want to better serve their customers. We plan to fill these stores up and give this team the tools they need to better serve their customers.”
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