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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Family-owned retailer Meijer Inc. has eliminated 350 salaried positions from its workforce, Reuters reports. The cuts, made on Friday, are reported to be the largest ever in the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based chain's 40-year history.
About 15 percent of the company's 2,300 white-collar jobs are affected. Most of the jobs are in Meijer headquarters offices in Walker and in Plainfield.
Some workers are to be placed elsewhere in the company, according to the report. Those who aren't are to receive severance pay based on time of service along with other benefits.
"This wasn't about people. It was about positions," Meijer spokesman John Zimmerman said. "The purpose is to save money and be more efficient." Zimmerman said employees had been aware of impending layoffs for six months.
It is the second time in two years that Meijer has laid off workers, Reuters reports. The company is facing growing pressure from other supercenters that operate in its trading area.
"In our five-state area, we compete with 158 supercenters -- that's one for each of our stores," Zimmerman said. "In 2007, we'll compete against 375 supercenters.
Meijer also plans to cut costs by devoting more space to retail and less to stock room in its new stores, according to the report.
Friday's job cuts do not affect the company's 76,000 hourly workers, including 30,000 union workers who this week approved a new, four-year contract.