Winn Dixie Cuts It Close

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It’s been a long time since Jim Davis called Winn Dixie the beef people. Today, he might ask, “where’s the beef.” Winn Dixie declared it was chopping away a fair sized portion of the southeast regional grocery store chain. The company continues to shrink and some question the future of the venerable grocery chain.

The new reorganization will cost 22.000 jobs and 326 stores all across the southeastern U.S. and many markets Winn Dixie will leave entirely. The grocery chain also plans to dump several other aspects of its business including distributions centers and production facilities.

The press release issued on Tuesday listed 3 of its 10 distribution facilities located in Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Greenville, South Carolina. The Company will also close the portion of the Montgomery, Alabama distribution center that handles dry grocery.

In addition, Winn-Dixie has put up for sale its manufacturing plants, including its six dairy and culture plants, its pizza plant in Montgomery, Alabama, and its Chek Beverage/Deep South Products plant in Fitzgerald, Georgia, which produces Chek soda, shelf-stable juices and condiments.

If buyers are not found, the Company will continue to operate the Chek Beverage plant and the Hammond, Louisiana and Plant City, Florida dairies. The Company is also working to find a third party to produce elsewhere the items made at its Astor Products plant in Jacksonville, Florida and the condiments at the Deep South plant. Once third parties are secured, those plants will be closed.

All this will put 22,000 people out of work. Winn Dixie said they were hopeful most of the layoffs could find jobsor stay on when new ownership picks up some of the groceries.

“Our hope is to sell as many of our affected stores, plants and DCs as possible to new owners who will continue to operate them,” stated Peter Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Winn-Dixie. “We are asking potential new owners to offer employment opportunities to our Associates.” Winn-Dixie will provide severance and other assistance to each Associate who is not offered employment.

Most industry watchers agree Winn Dixie still has an incredibly difficult road ahead as companies like Wal-Mart continue to expand into the grocery business and other chains like Kroger and Publix present formidable opponents in the grocery business. Winn Dixie will need to figure out where they belong or as Mark Hamstra of Supermarket News said in an AP interview, Winn-Dixie still needs to define itself and find a niche.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Winn Dixie Cuts It Close
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