Food Lion owner cuts 500 jobs

elyportillo@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 5, 2013 

DELHAIZE CUTS

A man heads toward the entrance of a Delhaize Group SA Food Lion supermarket in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. Delhaize Group SA, the owner of Food Lion supermarkets, plans to cut about 5,000 positions and expects a 2.4 percent drop in revenue as it closes stores in the U.S. and Europe. Photographer: Davis Turner/Bloomberg

DAVIS TURNER — Bloomberg

Delhaize America, which owns Food Lion and other supermarkets, is firing 350 corporate workers, including an unspecified number at the company’s Salisbury headquarters.

The company is also closing 150 open positions, for a total of 500 job cuts. Delhaize America is a subsidiary of Delhaize Group, a Belgian grocery company.

The jobs being cut are all above the store manager level. Spokeswoman Christy Philips-Brown said the company won’t say how many jobs are being cut in Salisbury because the company hasn’t finished notifying affected employees. Delhaize America executives expect to have completed most of the restructuring and job cuts by mid-February.

She said the cuts are being made to help create “a new organizational structure that enables the company to operate more effectively and efficiently.”

About 2,500 people work for Delhaize in Salisbury. The location is the headquarters for the Delhaize brands Food Lion, Bottom Dollar Reid’s, and Harveys. Hannaford, another Delhaize supermarket, is headquartered in Maine, and Sweetbay is based in Florida.

News accounts from Maine said six executive vice presidents lost their jobs at Hannaford on Monday as part of the restructuring.

Delhaize has stumbled recently, squeezed by competitors in both the high-end and low-price sectors. Publix and Wal-Mart have been opening stores in its markets. Last year, Delhaize closed 113 stores, including all of its Food Lion locations in Florida. A month ago, Food Lion closed eight underperforming stores, including one in Belmont, and closed 33 Sweetbay stores, all in Florida.

In December, Food Lion president Cathy Green-Burns was replaced by Beth Newlands Campbell, the president of Hannaford. The change was part of a broader management shake-up and consolidation. The company aimed to trim 25 percent from its top management ranks, according to media reports.

U.S. sales account for about two-thirds of the company’s sales and profits. The company employs about 100,000 workers in the U.S., mostly in its 1,300 grocery stores in the eastern U.S.

The company reported lackluster fourth quarter earnings last month. Sales at stores open a year or more, considered a key measure of a retailer’s health, were flat in the U.S. Total U.S. sales for the company were down 2.1 percent, to $4.7 billion, when including the 126 stores Delhaize closed in 2012.

For the full year, sales at Delhaize stores in the U.S. fell 2.2 percent, to $18.8 billion.

Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo

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