ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Fleming Cos. bid $57 million Wednesday to buy 66 Furrs Supermarkets stores in New Mexico and west Texas, a Furrs spokesman said.
There were other bidders at the auction of Furrs assets, spokesman Tom Garrity said, but ``no other offer or combination of bids is superior to the one received from Fleming.''
The offer is for both the stores and warehouse inventory, he said.
Furrs planned to hold a board meeting Wednesday afternoon to consider the offer, Garrity said.
If Furrs accepts the offer, it must be approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. A hearing has been scheduled for Friday.
The bulk of the Furrs stores would be ``owned and operated by independent supermarkets and chain supermarket retailers'' with Fleming serving as the supplier, said Shane Boyd, a Fleming spokesman in Lewisville, Texas. Fleming moved its operations from Oklahoma City to Texas in 1999.
Boyd said that under Fleming's proposal, the company would convert approximately 10 Furrs stores in Texas to warehouse-style supermarkets.
``Rather than see these stores liquidated and closed, we think this plan offers a growth solution,'' Boyd said. ``It offers the best opportunity to preserve jobs and shopping alternatives in these communities.''
About 4,000 people work at the Furrs stores.
Earlier this week, a federal bankruptcy judge approved the auction without acting on objections filed by the company's creditors, who complained that the auction procedure has been on a fast track.
Furrs president Steve Mortensen said the company, and its investment bankers, felt that interested parties had been given adequate time. The company first sought permission June 1 to auction the assets.
Garrity said a Furrs supply warehouse in El Paso, Texas, was still available for sale.
The privately held, Albuquerque-based Furrs filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws in February.
Furrs was forced to file for reorganization because it could not restructure debt in time to meet its obligations, company officials said. The company had expected to complete debt restructuring by last September, but it didn't get done until late December.
Fleming shares were up $1.27 to close at $34.45 in trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.