What’s Next for Winn-Dixie?

Discussion
Oct 16, 2006

By George Anderson


It now appears likely that Winn-Dixie will get the okay to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after a hearing last week before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerry Funk.


Those testifying on Winn-Dixie’s behalf portrayed the company as one that had made strides in lowering debt, improving sales and increasing liquidity. They also admitted that the grocery chain still faced many challenges in the marketplace.


Paul Huffard, senior managing director for The Blackstone Group, Winn-Dixie’s investment banker, told Judge Funk, “This is a large company and, like turning an aircraft carrier, it takes time to turn around.”


The grocery chain has lost $1.3 billion over the past three years, according to The Associated Press. It expects to return to profitability in its 2008 fiscal year.


While many are optimistic about Winn-Dixie’s chances post-Chapter 11, others are not.


Barton Weitz, executive director of the Miller Center for Retailing at the University of Florida, told the AP, “I don’t think much has changed. The difficulties they face remain the same. I don’t see that they have a well-articulated strategy that differentiates them from Wal-Mart and Publix.”


Discussion Question: What do you see as likely scenarios for Winn-Dixie following its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection?

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7 Comments on "What’s Next for Winn-Dixie?"


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Dean A. Sleeper
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Dean A. Sleeper
15 years 7 months ago

It would appear that Winn-Dixie is struggling to grasp the fundamental imperative for any Grocery retailer to survive, much less thrive: Determine the unique shopper value proposition that the enterprise can deliver, and then align senior management, culture and values, people and incentives, and finally, vendors and partners with creating, executing and measuring that vision.

Essentially, there are two groups of Grocery retailers today. The first group is leading growth by focusing on creation, execution and measurement of its unique, consumer-centric vision. The second group is largely struggling to find their souls, and sliding inexorably towards extinction.

Regrettably, Winn-Dixie seems to be in the latter group.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Two thoughts – the consensus that will build will, I think, point out that WD was a successful chain of the 70s and hasn’t progressed much farther after that. When they closed up shop in Atlanta, it was a much older constituency in much less affluent areas that was disappointed. Second, to Bill Bittner’s comments, why would anyone assume that (a) one needs to have an [integrated] internet and real store strategy and (b) that if this were true, WD would show any signs of achieving it? Their website is great for finding a store – that’s about it.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 7 months ago
I don’t know enough about the Winn-Dixie specifics to understand if what they have done under the protection of bankruptcy will be enough to allow things to turnaround. What will be interesting to see is if management can use this opportunity to really shake things up. Do they have the strategic vision to integrate the internet and physical store channels in a synergistic manner that maximizes revenue and minimizes cost? Specifically, will they look at the assortment planning in a holistic manner that includes both the internet and store channels working together to keep their online consumers from going to Amazon and their in-store customers from going to Publix or Wal-Mart? Will they use the internet as a truly collaborative tool that allows Winn-Dixie and supplier personnel to work together with a common perspective of the supply chain from the store shelf to the manufacturer? But most of all, will they have labor contracts that allow them to work with employees in such a way that allows special rewards for special performance. There has to… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Chapter 11 usually allows a retailer to get rid of unprofitable locations and related overhead. Upon exiting Chapter 11, Winn-Dixie should have adequate cash and a decent group of locations. The creditors will own the company and my guess is that they’ll sell their shares to any entity that will recycle the leases. It might be a stronger supermarket operator or another specialty operator who can use the locations for chain drug stores or other big-box enterprises. There’s no law that says a post-Chapter 11 profitable Winn-Dixie has to continue its existence, if greater profits can be made with another name or another category entirely.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
15 years 7 months ago

Winn-Dixie seems to be recycling itself into yesterday’s out-of-style clone. Yes, they absolved themselves from some heavy debt via bankruptcy and have made other “progresses” but they haven’t yet projected a new retailing stage show for the new demands of the forthcoming era.

Winn-Dixie is like “just another show on Broadway.” There are other retail shows that are better than theirs. Publix and Wal-Mart continue to draw full houses since their retail plays are more appealing. Thus the proof of the pudding for Winn-Dixie will be if they can come up with a better play, a better stage presentation, a better retail extravaganza than Publix and Wal-Mart. If Winn-Dixie doesn’t create a standout stage play, the attendance in their stores will continue to dwindle. That’s not only show business, it is also retailing business.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Winn-Dixie has reduced debt. They just walked away from it by filing for bankruptcy. Sales per store have risen because they closed so many sister stores and Hurricane Katrina increased population around several struggling stores. But Winn-Dixie has made no meaningful improvements themselves. The competition is not going to let Winn-Dixie enjoy these short-term, undeserved benefits for long. The best recipe for success is to build new stores near the best stores of the worst competitors. That means any successful Winn-Dixie has a big red target painted on it. Winn-Dixie still has far too many underperforming stores and is still considered an ineffectual competitor. I don’t see them being around for much longer.

Eric Winter
Guest
Eric Winter
15 years 6 months ago

I am a new reader and user to this website, so my apologies if I am off-base with this response. I can only share with you that my company, GiftFlix, a new player in the gift card space, has received nothing short of wonderful marketing and communications support from Winn-Dixie as we near our Holiday ’06 roll-out. Actually, the professionalism and treatment we have received being a “new” product for WD has been great. Of course, the proof is in the pudding on our sell-through. But my point is that in reading through these posts from apparently some high-level execs, it seems as if WD had its past problems; however, tomorrow is a new day so we wish them the best as they progress out of Chapter 11.

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