Grocers check out
Nov 03, 2012 (Menafn - Boston Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --There were big shakeups in the local grocery landscape yesterday when Shaw's Supermarkets announced layoffs for 700 New England store workers, and Johnnie's Foodmaster started a going-out-of-business sale.
West Bridgewater-based Shaw's job cuts at its 169 Shaw's and Star Markets represent about 4 percent of its 17,000-strong workforce. The chain said it's facing the same challenges as its struggling parent company, Minnesota's Supervalu Inc. The nation's third largest grocery chain with annual sales of about 35 billion from 4,400 stores, Supervalu has enacted waves of layoffs, store closings and millions in cost-cutting and in July said it would explore a possible sale of all or part of the company.
"We continue to operate in a tough competitive landscape and a challenging economy," Shaw's spokesman Steve Sylven said. "We've experienced sales losses that have made it challenging to manage labor costs."
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791 had 260 part-time members let go. All had worked for Shaw's for under a year, spokesman Peter Derouen said.
In June, the union reached an agreement with Shaw's that protects all union store employees hired before Jan. 1, 2011, from layoffs until its contract expires in August.
"It's no secret that Shaw's is struggling," Derouen said. "We worked out an agreement ... to give them relief in areas of the contract for certain stores."
Meanwhile, store-closing sales started yesterday at all 10 Johnnie's Foodmasters, with up to 30 percent discounts. John DeJesus, owner of the 65-year-old, Chelsea-based chain, did not return calls seeking comment. Texas-based upscale natural food chain Whole Foods Market [WFMI] said last week that it would convert six Foodmasters in South Weymouth, Arlington, Charlestown, Brookline, Melrose and on Beacon Street in Somerville to its own stores after acquiring their leases. That left four Foodmaster stores in Medford, Lynn, Whitman and Somerville that now also will close after the liquidation sale.
That's bad news for people in those neighborhoods, Somerville consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky said. "They're smaller format, yet they were still price-competitive," he said.
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