Rouses Markets will expand into Alabama following its acquisition of six former Belle Foods stores from Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc.

Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses Markets is a member of Associated Wholesale Grocers, which bid about $16.1 million for 43 Belle Foods stores at a Sept. 24 bankruptcy auction in Birmingham, Ala. The Kansas City, Kan.-based retail cooperative plans to operate 30 stores and close 13.

It will mark the first appearance of Rouses Markets in Alabama, according to a news release. At present the company has 38 stores in Louisiana and Mississippi. Three new Louisiana stores – in Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Gretna – were recently announced.

The Alabama stores are in Mobile, Gulf Shores, Spanish Fort, Saraland and Theodore. Rouses Markets won’t take possession until after the transfer to Associated Wholesale Grocers is final. Remodeling of the facilities and interviews of Belle Foods employees are planned.

“The stores will already be closed when we take ownership,” Donny Rouse, managing partner, said in the release. “We’ll be adding in-store sausage kitchens, seafood boiling rooms and other features we’re famous for.”