Horizon Travel Plazas File for Chapter 11

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Horizon Travel Plazas File for Chapter 11

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Horizon Travel Plazas LLC, operator of 24 locations based here, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Middle District of Tennessee, the Nashville Business Journal reported.

The company closed two of its Jackson-based stores, as well as other locations across the Southeast last week, amid speculation that the chain could file for bankruptcy, CSNews Online reported at the time.

One Jackson store manager, Sharon Hardy, told the Jackson Sun the news came as a surprise. "We went to work as usual," she said, "and then we got the information that U-Hauls were coming in, and the people in charge of the company came out and packed things up, and that was it for the two stores in Jackson."

Meanwhile, an executive at RJ Investments and Tri-States Contracting of Collierville, Tenn., the two companies that build and lease properties to Horizon, told the Northern Mississippi Daily Journal the retailer plans to keep 14 locations.

"I understand that they're keeping about 14 of the 24 stores," Jim Curtis, vice president of RJ Investments, and president and owner of Tri-States, told the paper before the bankruptcy announcement.

Curtis' companies are in the process of building a new 7,500-square-foot Horizon Travel Center in Tupelo, Miss., and plan to open the location soon, despite speculation that the location will not open due to Horizon's financial problems and store closings, the report stated.

"We didn't spend that amount of money to just walk away," Curtis said, adding that there are still a few details to be resolved.

Creditors listed in the filing include Coca-Cola Enterprises, Flav-O-Rich and Frito-Lay.

The chain was founded by former Mapco president and CEO, James Alligood, and vice president of business development, Steve Ramer.

Horizon is not the only convenience industry company to file Chapter 11. On May 29, State College, Pa.-based Uni-Marts LLC filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to close 45 of its 283 locations, as well as seek a buyer for the chain, CSNews Online reported.

Uni-Mart founder and CEO, Henry Sahakian, cited the slowed economy and other factors as the reason behind the filing.

"The overall condition of the economy, aggressive competition in the areas in which we operate, increased fuel and other inventory prices, and other matters outside our control have reduced the company's cash reserves, which prevented us from executing our business plans and tightened our operating margins," he said in a statement in late May.