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GRAND RAPIDS Mich -- Meijer here is outsourcing 81 information and technology positions to India this July, reports according to a press report.
The announcement was handed down to full-time and contract workers on Tuesday, at which time Meijer also said it will replace about 50 consumer call-center employees with workers at a Boston-based company.
Meijer says the employees will be offered new positions in the company's network or, if an employee chooses not to stay with the company, a severance package, according to an internal memo.
Officials told employees it will partner with Bangalore, India-based technology services firm Infosys Technologies, Ltd. The IT jobs eliminated include 55 contract workers and 26 employees of the 365 positions affiliated with the retailer's IT department.
Both moves are part of ongoing cost-cutting initiatives to streamline operations and keep the grocer competitive, said Meijer officials.
"We believe that our growth necessitates this partnership with Infosys, and we expect that over the course of this partnership, we will significantly reduce our operating costs," noted a Meijer memo sent by Hank and Doug Meijer and two other Meijer officials.
Meijer's headquarters-based call center will go from about 50 workers to nine employees.
While consumers can still contact any of Meijer's 171 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky directly, those using phone numbers listed on Meijer's Web site will be routed to the new Boston-based company's workers to get information about services, promotions, contests, and prices.
The call-center positions are being filled by part-time workers with disabilities, trained for home-based jobs through the National Telecommuting Institute, Inc. NTI has supplied employees for commercial and retail companies including TicketMaster, Home Shopping Network, Staples, the GAP, Alamo, and AAA, among others.
A corporate spokesperson told the Grand Rapids Press that the new workers will tour Meijer stores during training and will be working with the same computer database as the call center, adding that the company expects a "seamless process for the customer and a good fit for Meijer."
The program should be fully implemented by late spring, and affected Meijer call-center employees will be offered other jobs within the company or severance packages, the Meijer spokesperson added.
The family-owned Meijer chain operates 171 grocery and general merchandise supercenters throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Bank One and Chase operate 200 branches in supermarkets mostly in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas.