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Supervalu, just days after it sold off five banners to a consortium led by Cerberus Capital Management, said yesterday that it will eliminate 1,100 positions nationwide, including 600 - or almost 40 percent of the total - from its Eden Prairie, Minnesota, headquarters.

According to Supervalu, the layoffs will start in late May and run through October, "based on the needs of the business and the areas they support." The cuts are said to "include both current positions and open jobs that will not be filled."

The announcement said that the move "affects nearly all company offices and crosses most departments within the organization. In general, store level employees and Save-A-Lot, the company’s hard-discount retail chain, are not affected by this announcement. Employees whose positions are eliminated will be offered severance and outplacement services based on Supervalu’s eligibility guidelines.  "

"The decision to reduce our workforce, although difficult because of the impacts to our people, is the necessary next step in the rebuilding of our business,” said Sam Duncan, the new CEO at Supervalu. "This move is an important part of our strategy to be more focused and efficient in our operations, including how we staff and support our three business units going forward."

In a memo to employees yesterday, Duncan said that "leaders will begin meeting with employees, both impacted and non-impacted, this morning. It may take several days to conduct all of the meetings, depending on the size of the department."
KC's View:
What I'm hearing is that this is just the first round of cuts, and that management, while trying to be careful about not making in-store cuts that could affect sales and service, isn't taking anything off the table.

Which makes sense, when you think about it.

I did get an email yesterday from an MNB user inside Supervalu, who wrote:

Those of us being let go have 15-minute appointments with our director-level leadership across the next three days.

The severance package is decent—4 weeks for employees with 6 mos-4 years’ service, those with 5 or more receive a week for each service year, up to 26.  I imagine in our appointments, we will learn about the other opportunities Sam mentions below.  It was possible that they might have offered no severance; certainly not part of any employment contract below the Director level.  Some are grateful, but it is a ‘walking dead’ zone at the office today. 

Many of us were fortunate to have directors who had kept us as abreast of the likelihood and timing of this as much as legally possible.  While much couldn’t be shared, much could be gleaned from carefully chosen remarks and guidance.  I am fortunate to have been one of those with such leadership, and take into my next job a sense of how a team can be managed with respect and compassion.

That's an interesting final comment, seeing as someone I spoke with yesterday commented that you can tell a lot about a company by how it conducts itself during such a time.

I'm sure we'll be hearing more.