Pike Nurseries Up For Auction

Atlanta’s leading garden center chain Pike Family Nurseries went on the auction block yesterday, a little more than three months after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The outcome of the auction is not public yet, but at least five bidders have expressed interest in the 50-year-old family business founded by the Pike family and more recently owned by venture capitalists, Roark Capital Group, a private equity firm that bought Pike in 2004. Any final bid for the company must be approved by the bankruptcy judge. The next step is a public hearing tomorrow in federal bankruptcy court in Atlanta, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The newspaper also published an extensive interview with Pike’s CEO Scott Schnell, who joined the company a year ago. He comments on the factors that led Pike to bankruptcy and prospects for the future. Read the article here.

The blogosphere also has been rampant with long-time customers speculating on what happened and mourning the loss of their favorite garden center. Read those postings following the breaking news article about the auction here.

While the prolonged drought has been named as the primary culprit, others have speculated whether switching from a family-owned business to a more aggressively expanding venture-capitalist owned one led to the retailer’s troubles.

Whenever there is a big Chapter 11 filing in the industry, one of the most unsettling aspects is the ripple effect that can hurt other companies. According to bankruptcy court records, Pike Nursery Holding LLC owes nearly $5.6 million to its 20 largest unsecured creditors and at least half of these companies are growers. For more on the grower impact, read here.

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