Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly Inc., a chain of seven grocery stores in Milwaukee’s suburbs, said Tuesday it is adopting an employee stock ownership plan to chart the future ownership of the business and help the company compete in the region’s super-competitive grocery market.

Owners Pat and Lori Fox said there were a number of reasons they decided to transfer ownership of the business to the folks who work there.

“The obvious one is we’re not getting any younger and so we had to figure out exit strategy,” Lori Fox said.

They could have sold the company outright. However, Lori Fox said, “We really didn’t like that option because we really value our employees and that would create a lot of uncertainty for them. We really wanted to protect them but recognize that we needed some kind of exit strategy.”

They decided an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, was the way to go.

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