C&K Inc. moves to Medford

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer August 26, 2014 09:13 pm

C&K Market Inc. is moving its administrative offices in Brookings to Medford and is taking along any of its 30 employees who want to relocate.

“No jobs are being eliminated,” said company marketing manager Stacey Reynolds. “If you want to move to Medford, you have a job.”

The small-town grocery firm got its start in 1956 in Brookings, but has been beleaguered by financial complications with pressure from big-box retailers that have moved into town in recent years.

The company voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013, and began closing or selling about a third of its 60 stores and laying off 20 percent of its 2,500-person workforce.

At that time, C&K Market, represented by Portland law firm Tonkon Torp, said its liabilities were between $100 million and $500 million, while its assets ranged between $10 million and $50 million. The company was paying Tonkon Torp nearly $360,000 to navigate it through its reorganization efforts.

In July, C&K exited bankruptcy under a court order by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Alley, allowing the company to operate without court supervision.

Two years ago C&K moved its real estate, construction, training and some of its human resources closer to the Medford airport. The company already has a regional office there.

Relocating the administrative offices to Medford will make it easier for sales representatives, banking officials and others to meet with store officials.

Reynolds said store officials hope the transition will be finished by the end of the year — and the Ray’s Food store here will stay.

“The store is doing great,” she said. “There’s no worry about losing the store at this point.”

She doesn’t know how many employees might be interested in relocating.

“It’s a big decision for everybody,” she said. “Everyone’s kind of still processing it.”

Reynolds admitted she’s not sure of her plans.

“Everything’s pretty up in the air,” she said. “It’s fresh news to everyone. It’ll be a bit of a decision process.”

In the meantime, market officials plan to update its remaining stores — 15 were closed this spring — and offer a wider selection of items for consumers. 

Additionally, they will initiate a new program called Ray’s Healthy Living to promote gluten-free, low-carbohydrate, low-sodium, GMO-free and other natural and organic items. Some stores will see salad bars, hot-food options and sushi.

Chief Operations Officer Karl Wissmann was on vacation and unavailable for comment.