Giant Eagle Bottling Plant May Go on Block

Article excerpt

Giant Eagle Supermarket Inc.'s experiment in bottling water and teas in Latrobe has failed, and the plant will be on the auction block in February if a buyer can't be found.

The former Chestnut Ridge Beverage Co. plant was closed in October, more than three years after the chain bought the former LeNature's Inc. bottling plant in bankruptcy court.

M. Davis Group, the Pittsburgh auctioneer hired to conduct the sale Feb. 3-4, estimated the value of the plant at $75 million -- more than three times the $23.25 million price that Giant Eagle paid for it in September 2007.

Despite the plans for the auction, Giant Eagle said in a statement that it still wants to find a buyer. The supermarket chain is a minority owner, with a majority owner it has not identified.

The bottling plant and equipment are being offered as a "turn- key" operation with three filling lines, according to the auction announcement -- including more than $15 million in improvements made in the past 2 1/2 years at the 300,000-square-foot building.

Brian Dworkin, president of Castle Co-Packers -- a bottler of teas, water, sports drinks and energy beverages -- said in September that he was negotiating to buy the plant from Giant Eagle. Dworkin said Wednesday that he still wants to buy the plant, but not the equipment inside.

The auctioneer listed all pieces of equipment and inventory for bottling beverages, as well as office furniture and gym equipment that were at the facility when former LeNature's CEO Gregory Podlucky ran the operation until it went bankrupt in November 2006. …