November 3, 2012

Shaw's laying off 700 workers

The company will not disclose how many Maine employees will lose their jobs.

By Jessica Hall
Staff Writer

Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. on Friday said it would cut 700 jobs, or 4 percent of its work force, across Maine and the rest of New England.

The move comes two weeks after Shaw's parent company, SuperValu, posted a second-quarter loss. SuperValu previously said it was considering selling all or part of the company.

A spokesman for the West Bridgewater, Mass.-based Shaw's would not disclose how many Maine employees would be affected by the reduction in store-level positions.

Shaw’s employs about 17,000 associates in 169 stores in five New England states. It is one of the oldest continuously operating supermarkets in the country, dating back to 1860 when George C. Shaw opened his first store in Portland. Shaw's sold its Connecticut locations in 2010.

“A decision of this nature is never easy, but after careful evaluation, it is unfortunately the necessary step for us to take to help improve our business, reduce expenses and reinvest in more customer-facing initiatives,” said Shaw’s President Mike Stigers in a press release.

“As we continue to look at the best ways to achieve success, we recognized an opportunity to align our work force to more effectively serve the marketplace by scheduling team members more appropriately to serve customers at the times they shop. These changes will help us to compete more effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

Notifications of layoffs began this week and will be complete by the end of the weekend, said spokesman Steve Sylven.

The layoffs at Shaw's come amid financial problems at its SuperValu parent company.

Last month, SuperValu said it would close about 60 underperforming or non-strategic stores, including 38 in its retail food business and 22 Save-A-Lot locations. Shaw's said Friday's layoff announcement was unrelated to the planned store closings, which primarily affect its Albertsons and Acme chains.

In the second quarter, SuperValu posted a loss of $111 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with a profit of $60 million, or 28 cents a share, a year ago. For the quarter, retail food net sales dropped 7.3 percent to  $5.20 billion.

Shares of SuperValu shed 2.15 percent to $3.19 after the layoff announcement. The stock has fallen 58 percent in the past 12 months.


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