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    The Fresh Market Cuts Workforce by 18

    The specialty grocer said it will continue a planned expansion, however.

    The Fresh Market has eliminated 18 positions at its corporate and field offices, the Greensboro, N.C.-based specialty grocer confirmed with Progressive Grocer on yesterday.

    The 83-unit grocer attributed the layoffs to the current economic downturn. "The Fresh Market has decided to take a number of measured, preventive steps to address today's economic climate and to ensure the continued success and growth of the business," it said in the statement.

    At the same time, however, the chain reiterated it plans to expand, with 10 new stores on tap for 2009, including entries in a number of new markets in different regions of the country. The Fresh Market recently opened a new unit in Greenville, S.C., and others in Sarasota and The Villages, Fla. will open around Nov. 1.

    The Fresh Market characterized the layoffs as a preventive measure.

    "These actions are designed to position the company for continued growth and success, both today and in the future," it said. "Because the company is healthy and financially strong, taking these measures now will help make certain that the company continues to thrive even through difficult economic times."

    The family-owned, privately held specialty grocer operates 83 stores in 18 states, concentrated in the Southeast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

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