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    Ralphs to Close 15 Stores

    COMPTON, Calif. - Ralphs Grocery Co. here yesterday said it will permanently close 15 underperforming Ralphs supermarkets in Southern California within the next 60 days. The store closures are not related to the recently resolved Southern California supermarket labor dispute.

    COMPTON, Calif. - Ralphs Grocery Co. here yesterday said it will permanently close 15 underperforming Ralphs supermarkets in Southern California within the next 60 days. The store closures are not related to the recently resolved Southern California supermarket labor dispute.

    The Kroger Co. subsidiary made the decision to permanently close the 15 stores following its annual review of its supermarket operation. Each of the stores slated for closure has experienced declining sales over an extended period of time.

    "We are taking these steps after extensive and careful review," said John Burgon, president of Ralphs. "The closing of these stores is a difficult but necessary step toward a better, more competitive Ralphs in Southern California. None of these stores generates enough sales, nor has enough customers, to pay for the increasing cost of their operation. Closing these stores will help us operate more efficiently and position Ralphs for the next generation of growth by better serving our customers."

    The closing of the 15 stores will result in the reassignment of approximately 600 associates. The company intends to place associates in other stores, where possible. Ralphs will be working closely with associates to ease their transition.

    "We are concerned for the well-being of our associates and will do everything we can to ensure a smooth transition for them," Burgon said. "We're taking every step to ensure we can provide them with continued employment."

    To inform consumers, Ralphs is undertaking a comprehensive information campaign in connection with the closings. Customers in areas affected by the store closures will be informed of other nearby Ralphs locations.

    Ralphs Grocery Co. was founded in 1873 and currently operates more than 340 supermarkets under the Ralphs, Bell Markets, and Cala Foods banners in California.

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