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    Bankruptcy Court Extends Winn-Dixie's Reorganization Plan Deadline; Chain to Slash 400 HQ Jobs

    JACKSONVILE, Fla. -- A bankruptcy judge yesterday approved revised versions of the motions Winn-Dixie filed last month, in which the chain requested an extension for filing its Chapter 11 plans and permission to authorize implementation of employee retention and severance plans.

    JACKSONVILE, Fla. -- A bankruptcy judge yesterday approved revised versions of the motions Winn-Dixie filed last month, in which the chain requested an extension for filing its Chapter 11 plans and permission to authorize implementation of employee retention and severance plans.

    The move allows Winn-Dixie to extend its deadline for filing a plan of reorganization by 90 days. The new deadline is Sept. 19, 2005. In its original motion Winn-Dixie requested an extension of 120 days, but revised that request after consulting its creditors, according to a Winn-Dixie spokesman.

    Also at the bankruptcy hearing, an attorney for Winn-Dixie said the company expects to cut 400 of the 1,400 jobs at its headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla. sometime this month, according to published reports. Winn-Dixie is also reportedly planning to announce which of its stores will be sold or closed by the end of the month.

    The bankruptcy judge approved an employee retention plan that would pay bonuses to 290 key employees, excluding chief executive Peter Lynch, if they stay with the company through the bankruptcy reorganization, as well as a severance plan that covers any of Winn-Dixie's employees who could lose their jobs through the bankruptcy process. A compromise from Winn-Dixie's original motion, the plan includes smaller retention bonuses and severance benefits than the chain originally requested.

    "We are pleased that the court approved the filing extension, and the employee retention and severance plan that the company had proposed and then revised in reaction to comments received from the creditors committee," Winn-Dixie spokesman Michael Freitag told Progressive Grocer. "We believe this plan will be very helpful in allowing the company to focus on achieving its reorganization objectives and making sure people who can best help us achieve a successful result will remain in place."

    --Jenny McTaggart

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