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November 3, 2012

Shaw's laying off 700; local impact not known

Shaw’s supermarkets Friday announced plans to reduce its store-level workforce by an estimated 700 positions, with the reductions to occur across 169 Shaw’s and Star Market stores in New England, company officials said.

Company officials said the plans are expected to be finalized by sometime today, according to a statement issued by the parent company, Supervalu Inc.

“A decision of this nature is never easy, but after careful evaluation, it is unfortunately the necessary step for us to take to help improve our business, reduce expenses and reinvest in more customer-facing initiatives,” said Mike Stigers, president of Shaw’s. “As we continue to look at the best ways to achieve success, we recognized an opportunity to align our workforce to more effectively serve the marketplace by scheduling team members more appropriately to serve customers at the times they shop. These changes will help us to compete more effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

Approximately 90 associates affected by the layoffs have already been informed of their status, and the remaining 610 will be informed during the next several days.

It is not clear to what level any individual stores will be affected – including the two Shaw’s stores in Gloucester, on Railroad and Eastern avenues.

Shaw’s, Osco and Star Market are all part of the nationwide Supervalu Inc. family of grocery stores.

Shaw’s itself is one of the oldest continuously operated supermarkets in the United States, with its roots dating to 1860. Throughout five New England states, there are 169 store locations with approximately 17,000 employees, termed associates.

The two Shaw’s stores make up half of Gloucester’s major supermarkets, along with Stop & Shop off Bass Avenue and Thatcher Road and Demoulas’ Market Basket, which opened in 2009 and anchors the Gloucester Crossing Shopping Center.

Another major Cape Ann grocery store, IGA in Rockport, closed its doors, however, in January 2011, and town officials have been working to an extent with Whistlestop Mall site owner Jay Smith to return a full-scale grocery store to that town as well.

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