Belle Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, as the Birmingham-based company is saddled with debt from its 57 stores throughout the Southeast, according to The Associated Press.
Belle Foods — which once ran Bruno's and Food World stores in the Birmingham area — announced in April plans to hire 300 part-time workers in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi to replace full-time workers in a cost-saving move.
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But Belle Foods still faced a decline in business, technical issues with its accounting system, and concerns over its lending structure and relationships, all of which contributed to the company's decision to file for bankruptcy, according to AL.com.
"Additionally, higher payroll taxes in 2013 have led to a decline in purchases by the (Belle's) customer base," the filing said.
Belle Foods officials added that competition in several of its markets from other grocers didn't help the situation either.
Belle Foods owes Southern Family Markets $28 million for the purchase of some of its stores, and the company owes C&S Wholesale Grocers another $6 million, and has about $8 million due in other accounts payable, according to documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
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