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Supervalu-owned Albertsons in Southern California announced yesterday that it "plans to reduce its store-level workforce by an estimated 2,200-2,500 positions. These reductions, which will occur across all 247 Albertsons stores in California and Nevada, will begin the week of June 17 and should be completed near July 1. The change is expected to directly impact a small number of positions at any specific store location."

The company said that the decision is part of the company's focus "on simplifying its organization and reducing expenses to help reinvest in more customer facing initiatives."

In a prepared statement, the company said that in February, it began identifying "ways to de layer and remove costs with a reduction in its Fullerton store support center. While Albertsons' commitment to the neighborhoods it serves remains the same, the need for change at the company is clear. Albertsons has not kept pace with the changing needs of its customers for a number of reasons. At the same time, while the division has experienced a reduction in traffic and an overall decline in sales, it has not made the necessary adjustments to its store-level operations."

"A decision of this nature is never easy, but it is the necessary step for us to take to help improve our business and accelerate our turnaround," said Dan Sanders, president, Albertsons Southern California Division. "Our goal is to more effectively serve the marketplace by scheduling associates more appropriately to serve customers at the times they shop. I am confident our team will embrace these changes and help us to compete more effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace."
KC's View:
It is instructive that at the same time as Supervalu announces these layoffs, it also announces a new Florida warehouse to serve its expanding Save-A-Lot universe, which currently has a fleet of 1,280 ... but could double in size by 2015.

Supervalu has to put its money where it thinks the growth opportunities are. Albertsons in Southern California clearly is not on top of the priority list.

The thing is, I somehow doubt that if we all had polled Albertsons customers in Southern California a few months ago, would people have said that there were too many employees in the stores, that the service was too good, and that what they really wanted were fewer cashiers and stock clerks and department employees?

Supervalu has decided that fewer people on the front lines is the way to be more economical. The question is whether fewer people on the front lines will make it more competitive ... which is a completely different thing.