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    3 Chains Close Stores

    BJ’s, Shaw’s and Marsh shutting locations in 6 states

    Three grocery chains announced the closing of more than a dozen stores in the eastern half of the United States this week.

    BJ’s Wholesale Club plans to close three stores in the Atlanta area; one in Sunrise, Fla.; and one in Charlotte, N.C., by the end of the month.

    Shaw’s Supermarkets, the New England division of Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc., will close five of its stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island by mid-February.

    And Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets already has closed a store in Rushville, Ind., and plans to shut down others in Shelbyville and Connersville by the end of February.

    “The five clubs to be closed have historically underperformed and, after careful consideration, we concluded that improvement of their operating results was unlikely,” said Laura Sen, CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club, as reported in USA Today.

    In addition to the 380 jobs cut by the store closings, the company plans to slash the work force at its Natick, Mass., headquarters by 114. The job cuts were announced Monday as BJ’s reported December revenue rose 3.8 percent, or 1.4 percent excluding gasoline sales. BJ’s operates 194 warehouse clubs in 15 states and has 23,000 employees.

    The company also announced that CFO Frank Forward will retire, to be succeeded by Robert Eddy, BJ’s director of finance.

    Last summer, Green Equity Investors bought 5.1 million shares in BJ’s Wholesale, boosting the merchant’s stock price.

    Meanwhile, Shaw’s declined to reveal how many jobs might be affected by its store closings.

    “The decision comes from our striving to ensure the success of all our stores,” Shaw’s spokesman Steve Sylven told the Boston Herald. “Given the competitive markets that we’re operating in right now and really the difficult environment, unfortunately it becomes necessary to close those stores that aren’t profitable.”

    Sylven said that making the decision to close stores is “always difficult given the impact on employees and customers, and, obviously, these were made after very careful evaluation.”

    The closings will leave Shaw’s with 169 Shaw’s and Star Markets.

    Marsh’s closings will take that chain’s store count to 97, with about half of them in its headquarters city.

    “While the decision to close a store is never easy, the Marsh management team is committed to improving operating results and strengthening the company’s position in our marketing areas,” the company said in a statement. Though the company would not divulge how many jobs would be impacted, a spokesperson said as many employees as possible will be given the opportunity to transfer to another location or be granted a severance package.

    Marsh said in a statement that the Shelbyville closing came as a result of a continual review and evaluation of company assets, processes and business plans.

    The decision to close the three stores leaves Marsh without a presence in Shelbyville, Ind., for the first time in about two decades, but it’s not a new scenario. Marsh is the second grocery store to leave the town within a year; its J.R. Western Supermarket closed in February 2010. Kroger, Wal-Mart, Aldi and the local Mickey’s T-Mart continue to operate in the city.

    Marsh’s planned closing in Connersville, Ind., will leave that town with one other March location, which will be rebranded as a MainStreet Market.

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