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Winn-Dixie cutting 22,000 jobs
Supermarket retailer closing more than 300 stores as it seeks to bolster results.
June 21, 2005: 6:39 PM EDT
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Bankrupt grocery chain Winn-Dixie said Tuesday it would close about a third of its 913 stores and cut 22,000 jobs as part of a plan to restructure and emerge from bankruptcy.

The job cuts represent about 28 percent of Winn-Dixie's total work force. The cuts will affect stores as well as corporate offices, the company said in a statement.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based supermarket chain said it's closing or selling 326 stores to focus on its most profitable markets.

"Creating a smaller, but more profitable store base will best position Winn-Dixie for long-term financial health and a successful future," Winn-Dixie CEO Peter Lynch said in a statement.

The company would have about $7.5 billion in annual revenue after disposing of the stores, down 25 percent from its current $10 billion, it said.

Winn-Dixie also plans to sell its dairy and pizza plants in Montgomery, Ala., and a beverage plant in Fitzgerald, Ga.

The company, which once dominated markets across the South and in the Bahamas but lost business to rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Publix Super Markets in recent years, filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in February.

Regional and some national grocery chains have felt growing pressure as Wal-Mart has ramped up its food business in recent years.

But one industry analyst said that Wal-Mart was not the only problem facing the 80-year-old Winn-Dixie chain.

"The modern grocer needs to stop blaming Wal-Mart and focus on improving the shopping experience," said Candace Corlett, a retail analyst at WSL Strategic Retail, a consulting firm.

"Being just another supermarket isn't going to cut it," Corlett said. "Food Lion's new Bloom stores are competitive because they are focused on customers. Winn-Dixie proves that you can't keep your eye fixated on the bottom line and keep your customers."

WSL, in a report called "How America Shops," has listed Winn-Dixie as a retailer "at risk" for six straight years.

Winn-Dixie is now in 37 markets but will cut that to 23. It will also close three of its 10 distribution centers.

After the cuts, Winn-Dixie will still have stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and the Bahamas. It will no longer have outlets in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. In Chapter 11, a company is protected from creditors while it tries to reorganize and work out a plan to pay its debts.

Supermarkets have been going all out to improve the shopping experience. Read more here.  Top of page

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