Delhaize To Close Food Lion, Bloom Stores, Cut Almost 5,000 Jobs In U.S.

Delhaize Food Lion Bloom stores closingBRUSSELS (AP) -- A Belgian supermarket chain that owns Food Lion said Thursday it will close more than 100 struggling stores, mostly in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The company will also shutter the Bloom brand, a sister grocery chain that had been launched as a higher-end alternative to Food Lion.

Pierre-Olivier Beckers, CEO of Delhaize Group, said in a statement the company was dealing with tight consumer spending and increased competition. He said that the store closings, most of which will come in markets where the company has a low penetration, will allow it to focus on better-performing stores where the chain has greater market share.

The store closings will result in about 4,900 job cuts in the U.S., the company said. Beckers said the decisions were difficult but "were in keeping with our responsibility to our shareholders to deploy resources where they will achieve the highest return."

Delhaize will close 113 Food Lion stores in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. It will close seven Bloom stores in Maryland and Virginia, and convert the remaining 42 Bloom stores to Food Lions.

It will also close six Bottom Dollar Food stores in North Carolina and Virginia, and convert 22 others into Food Lions. A distribution center located in Tennessee will also be closed.

But while Delhaize is retiring the Bloom brand, it says it sees promise for Bottom Dollar Food. It said the chain had enjoyed "considerable success" in the Philadelphia area, and that it planned to open its first stores in the Pittsburgh area early this year. Delhaize also reiterated that it plans to add "hundreds" of Bottom Dollar Food stores in the next five years.

Delhaize has about 1,650 stores in the Eastern U.S.

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