Winn-Dixie to close 35 percent of its stores
Compiled from staff and wire reports
Published June 21, 2005
JACKSONVILLE - Bankrupt supermarket giant Winn-Dixie announced Tuesday that it will close 35 percent of its stores and reduce its workforce by 28 percent under its proposed Chapter 11 reorganization plan.
While Winn-Dixie is circling the wagons to compete in its traditional stronghold in Florida, the supermarket chain will thin its ranks in this state, too. The chain identified 44 stores in Florida as being closed. Of those, 12 of them are in the Tampa Bay area (See the list below.) When the dust settles Winn-Dixie will have 49 stores in the Tampa Bay area, down from the current 62.
All told, the company said it will shutter 326 of its 913 stores in the coming months and will trim 22,000 of 78,000 positions. It will cease operations in four states - Tennessee, Virginia and North and South Carolina - and will trim operations in its five remaining states. Those are Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. It also has stores in the Bahamas.
The company said it will try to find buyers for the closing stores and ask the new owners to retain as many employees as possible.
In a statement, Winn-Dixie also said it will try to sell six dairy plants, its pizza plant in Montgomery, Ala., and its Chek Beverage/Deep South Products plant in Fitzgerald, Ga., which produces Chek soda, shelf-stable juices and condiments.
If buyers are not found, Winn-Dixie said it would continue to operate the Chek Beverage plant and its Hammond, La., and Plant City, Fla., dairies.
The company also said that is working to find a third party to produce elsewhere the items made at its Astor Products plant in Jacksonville and the condiments at the Deep South plant. Those plants will then be closed.
Peter Lynch, president and CEO of Winn-Dixie, has said for months that the reorganized company must become smaller.
"We regret the impact these tough decisions will have on many of our Associates, customers and local communities. We do not take these decisions lightly and would not be proceeding if these steps were not essential to restore Winn-Dixie's financial health," Lynch said in a statement.
An attorney representing Winn-Dixie, Stephen Busey, said at a bankruptcy hearing last week that Winn-Dixie planned to cut 400 jobs from the 1,400 at its corporate headquarters.
Winn-Dixie, which filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 21, is No. 182 on the 2005 Fortune 500 list of the country's largest corporations. Winn-Dixie was ranked No. 8 among 19 food and drug store companies, while Lakeland-based Publix was ranked No. 6 among supermarkets and No. 117 overall.
The Jacksonville-based supermarket chain listed assets of $2.2 billion and liabilities of $1.9 billion in a February bankruptcy filing.
Winn-Dixie shares traded up after the closures were announced, rising 2 cents or 1.3 percent at $1.14 in over-the-counter trading Tuesday afternoon after being down most of the day.
12 stores slated for closing in the Tampa Bay area:
2514 McMullen Booth Road
2675 Gulf toLake Road
3705 Tampa Road
NEW PORT RICHEY
8615 Little Road
850 Third Ave. S
5715 Gunn Highway
8702 Hunters Lake Dr.
1601 W Kennedy Blvd.
1971 State Road 60
3236 Lithia Pinecrest
5351 Village Market
- Source: Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.
[Last modified June 21, 2005, 16:15:09]
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