Thursday, August 16, 2001

Sure Save
plan approved

The Big Island grocery retailer
will be allowed to pay off $4.9 million
to creditors over 12 years

By Russ Lynch

A federal judge yesterday approved a reorganization plan for bankrupt Big Island grocery retailer Sure Save Super Market Ltd., which will let the company pay off $4.9 million to creditors over the next 12 years.

Since filing for court protection in June 1999, the company has reduced a loan from First Hawaiian Bank to $1.1 million from $5.9 million.

Sure Save filed for bankruptcy court protection in June 1999, listing debts of more than $10 million. At the time it was operating three supermarkets -- in Hilo, Keaau and Captain Cook -- as well as six Wiki-Wiki convenience stores around the Big Island and an Island Market grocery store in Naalehu. It also had a distribution center and administrative offices in the Shipman Business Park in Keaau.

The company sold the distribution center and two of its convenience stores and has other real estate up for sale. At one time, the company had a plan to sell its whole business to a Florida company but the sale fell through.

Sure Save's owners, Carl Okuyama and his family, have said throughout the two-year bankruptcy process that they believed the company could pay off its debts if given enough time.

"The amount of work done by everyone over the past two years to turn around a company that was operating unprofitably for six years before filing bankruptcy is encouraging and commendable," Okuyama said in a statement issued late yesterday.

"Reinvesting into the remaining seven stores will be a major priority for the company," said Okuyama, who was promoted to chairman from president two months after the bankruptcy filing and given the task of saving the business.

Vigorous objections to Sure Save's reorganization, which essentially set long terms for the repayment of debts, came from Kealakekua Ranch Ltd., owner of a shopping center in Captain Cook where Sure Save has a supermarket. Kealakekua said Sure Save owes it some $200,000 in back rent and has refused to remove buildings so that the landlord can lease the property to someone else.

However, Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King put off a scheduled Aug. 6 hearing on the reorganization plan until yesterday to give the parties another chance to come to an agreement.

In that time Sure Save, with the assistance of its attorneys, accountants and commercial advisers as well as First Hawaiian Bank and Watumull Properties, raised enough money to satisfy Kealakekua's claims, the statement said.

The plan goes into effect Aug. 31 and Okuyama said the company "looks forward to rebuilding its service to the community."

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