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Monday, June 22, 2009

Appco Nears Auction

Source: CSP Daily News
By Steve Holtz

Appco Nears Auction

By Steve Holtz

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. – The marketing of the Appalachian Oil Co. for sale moved a step closer this week as a bankruptcy court judge approved sale procedures. While the landlord agreement remains subject to review, chief restructuring officer Andy Weber said he is moving forward with preparing the Blountville. Tenn.-based chain for a sealed-bid auction.

"We feel confident that we have a strong and viable business for sale, and we've had a tremendous amount of interest and calls unsolicited both to me and to NRC asking, 'When is the company going to be officially for sale?'," Weber of NRC Reality Advisors, Chicago, told CSP Daily News in an exclusive interview. "Right now everything is up for discussion and subject to the court's final approval."

Weber said NRC has received court authority to sell the company as a whole or in pieces. He adds that he's heard interest in potential buyers to bid on it both way.

"It can go any which way," he said. "The chain itself in its geography lends itself to three distinct regions. One is Kentucky, another is southwest Virginia, and the third in northeastern Tennessee. There are a lot of regional operators in those markets that may simply be interested in their region. We have the ability and we will certainly consider somebody who wants to take the entire chain, as well."

In the meantime, Weber said the Blountville, Tenn.-based chain has "shed a few stores" as part of court dealings with landlords.

"At one point, they had 60-plus and now we're down to 50," he said. "But that's a good group of stores that are all profitable, and yes, they're back in stock and servicing the customers." Many of the stores closed their doors for several weeks when financial issue made maintaining supply both in the stores and at the pumps a problem.

Appco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 9, 2009, 17 months after being purchased by Dallas-based Titan Global Holdings Inc. in September 2007.

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