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Florida-based Winn-Dixie Stores announced Friday that it plans to close or sell of 156 stores, will shutter three distribution centers, will sell several manufacturing businesses, and eliminate some 10,000 jobs – or 10 percent of its workforce - in order to restore the company to profitability.

Company CEO Frank Lazaran described the move as a “difficult decision” that was necessary from a strategic point of view. “We will make every effort to ensure a smooth and fair transition for affected (employees)."

The decision was announced as Winn-Dixie reported earnings of $600,000 for the third quarter compared with $50.6 million in earnings a year ago. Sales fell for the quarter to $2.67 billion from $2.82 billion a year ago.

The company said it plans to close 45 unprofitable or poorly located stores and put another 111 stores up for sale and close them if it cannot find buyers. Winn-Dixie said it will close warehouses in Sarasota, Fla., Raleigh, N.C., and Louisville, Ky. And, according to the company, it will try to sell its Dixie Packers, Crackin' Good Bakery/Snacks, and Montgomery Pizza manufacturing operations and consolidate its Greenville Ice Cream and Miami Dairy operations into its other dairies.

Once the store closings/sales and job cuts are completed, Winn-Dixie should be left with 922 stores and about 90,000 employees.
KC's View:
With all due respect to the folks at Winn-Dixie, this is just a small step…and we’re not even sure it is in the right direction. People with whom we speak who know the company’s operations suggest that it’s bigger challenge is to create a compelling shopping experience that can effectively lure customers from the likes of Wal-Mart and Publix.

Hate to say it, but there tends to be a certain skepticism that this can happen. Whether or not it is justified, there is a death watch on Winn-Dixie now…and it is up to management to figure out how to assuage those fears.