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    Sweetbay Closing One-third of Its Stores

    Shuttering of underperforming locations part of Delhaize America shakeup

    In the latest round of restructuring at Delhaize America, the company’s Tampa, Fla.-based Sweetbay Supermarket banner will close 33 underperforming stores out of the 105 it currently operates in the Sunshine State, as well as shuttering the pharmacy at its Bonita Springs, Fla., location. The closures will take place by mid-February.

    “While these decisions are difficult, especially given the impact on our associates, customers and communities, these actions will continue to enhance the performance of our overall store portfolio and further enable us to deliver profitable growth and accelerate shareholder value,” noted Sweetbay, which, following the closures, will operate 72 stores in Florida.

    Stores in the Bradenton/Sarasota, Pinellas/Pasco, Fort Myers/Naples, Tampa, Homosassa, Plant City/Lakeland, Springhill, Zephyrhills and Clermont areas will close, affecting about 2,000 associates. Sweetbay said it would provide severance pay to eligible employees.

    Parent company Delhaize America this month slashed its management team by a quarter and in December made a number of executive changes, including the appointment of Brad Wise, the former head of human resources for Delhaize America, as president of the Hannaford Supermarkets and Sweetbay banners, while former Sweetbay head Mike Vail became chief supply chain officer for Delhaize America.

    Other store closures occurring across Delhaize America banners by mid-February are eight underperforming Food Lion stores in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and three underperforming Bottom Dollar Food stores in the greater Philadelphia area, Christy Phillips-Brown, director, external communications & community relations at Salisbury, N.C.-based Delhaize America , told Progressive Grocer. Phillips-Brown said there were no additional store closures or restructure annoucements at this time.

    In its fourth-quarter 2012 results, Delhaize America, which currently has 1,500 stores in 16 eastern states, operating under the Bottom Dollar, Food Lion, Harveys, Hannaford, Reid’s and Sweetbay banners, reported a revenue decline of 2.1 percent to $4.7 billion, although, excluding revenues from the 126 stores closed in February 2012, revenues grew 1.4 percent in local currency, with flat comparable-store sales. The company further noted that volume growth was positive for the quarter because of Food Lion brand repositioning, ongoing price investments at Hannaford and the expansion of Bottom Dollar.
     

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