Brownand Cole files for bankruptcy

Published on Thu, Nov 9, 2006 by ack Kintner

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Brown and Cole files for bankruptcy

By Jack Kintner

Brown and Cole stores, owner of the Blaine Cost Cutter grocery, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in Seattle last Tuesday afternoon but most of its stores will remain open. A significant exception is the Lynden Cost Cutter, whose 25 employees will be offered jobs elsewhere in the 97-year-old grocery chain’s 27 stores. The Blaine Cost Cutter grocery will remain open.

The company’s annual sales have declined from almost $400 million seven years ago to $300 million in 2005.

Brown and Cole president Craig Cole cited rising health care premiums and competition from so-called big box stores like Wal-Mart as factors in his decision to seek bankruptcy protection. His company is one of three family-owned grocery chains that have dominated the highly competitive Bellingham grocery market since early last century. Another is the Haggen’s/Top Foods chain and a third, Ennen’s, was bought out by Cole a few years ago.

Brown and Cole also plans to close stores in Sedro Woolley, Yakima and Sunnyside. Plans for their property on Birch Bay-Lynden Road just east of Blaine road were uncertain at press time.