Acquisition Will Bring Together Two Carolinas-Born, Family-Owned Grocery and Distribution Organizations; Expand Geographic Footprint and Strengthen Buying Power
HICKORY, N.C., Sept. 25, 2019 – Alex Lee, Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire W. Lee Flowers & Co., a wholesale and retail grocery company headquartered in Scranton, S.C.. The acquisition of W. Lee Flowers, which distributes to more than 75 grocery stores in the Carolinas and Georgia including 50 stores that it owns and operates, will enable Alex Lee to expand its geographic footprint, enhance operations in new markets and offer consumers a greater variety of products at competitive costs. W. Lee Flowers has sustained its reputation for outstanding customer service, value and convenience for more than four decades, adding another highly-respected company to Alex Lee’s family, along with Merchants Distributors (MDI), Lowes Foods and Souto Foods.
W. Lee Flowers will operate as a subsidiary of Alex Lee and will maintain its present facility in Scranton. While employees of W. Lee Flowers are being retained, the company’s longtime executives, William Henry Johnson Jr. and Heyward L. King Jr., will step down after more than 80 years of combined leadership. Rick Geary will take over the leadership responsibility for W. Lee Flowers.
“For years, Alex Lee and W. Lee Flowers have worked together in various capacities. Both are known within the industry, and to each other, as dependable, family-owned, values-based businesses that have earned the respect of customers, suppliers and vendors,” said Brian George, president & CEO, Alex Lee, Inc. “Together, we have an opportunity to accelerate our growth in all markets, while continuing to provide exceptional services. W. Lee Flowers and its employees have built invaluable relationships within their local communities that we expect will only solidify as we move forward together.
“While we look to the future with enthusiasm, we also recognize the achievements that have led us to this point,” continued George. “Henry Johnson and Heyward King have shepherded the organization their fathers helped build through many decades of growth. They have more than earned our respect and gratitude, as well as a pair of long and happy retirements.”
“We are thrilled to continue serving our customers and distribution partners within the Alex Lee family of companies,” said Henry Johnson, president, W. Lee Flowers & Co. “Alex Lee shares our longtime commitment to prioritizing customer service and value. With the support of Alex Lee and its fellow subsidiaries, we believe we’re in an ideal position to thrive in a competitive environment.”
About W. Lee Flowers & Co.
Founded in 1922 in Lake City, South Carolina, W. Lee Flowers & Co. is one of the largest grocery distributors in the region. The company maintains a full-line warehouse facility of more than 400,000 square feet, housing all major departments, including: grocery, meat, dairy, produce, ice cream and GM/HBC. W. Lee Flowers owns and operates 50 IGA and KJ’s Market grocery stores in North and South Carolina and Georgia. The Food Partners represented W. Lee Flowers in its evaluation of strategic alternatives including as its financial advisor in the transaction with Alex Lee, Inc.
About Alex Lee, Inc.
Founded in 1931, Alex Lee is a family-owned and operated company that employs approximately 10,000 people. It serves as the parent company of Merchants Distributors, LLC, which provides full-service, wholesale distribution to supermarkets and Souto Foods, a distributor of authentic Hispanic foods. In addition, Alex Lee is the parent company of Lowes Foods, which includes nearly 85 full-service grocery stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, as well as Just Save food stores in North Carolina. Alex Lee, Inc. is based in Hickory, North Carolina.
For more information, please visit alexlee.com.