Make us your home page

Sweetbay parent overhauls Food Lion with cost cutting

Delhaize Group, the Belgian owners of Sweetbay Supermarket and other chains, will close 126 U.S. stores, eliminate 4,900 jobs and pull out of several markets across the Southeast next month.

The 103 Sweetbay stores will be spared, but the move will reshape Delhaize's Food Lion unit into a 1,127-store operation focused more on price across 10 states. In the process Food Lion will pull out of Florida, closing 25 stores as far south as Alachua County and halve its presence in Tennessee and Georgia. A distribution center in Clinton, Tenn., will be closed.

It's another example of how Walmart and dollar stores, and the spread of limited-assortment grocers like Aldi and Save-A-Lot have sent supermarkets scurrying for new strategies.

Delhaize does not break out the performance of its U.S. units. But in contrast to Sweetbay, which uses higher-quality produce and meats to better compete at a level with Publix, Food Lion is more of a budget grocer operating from small, traditional supermarkets that go head-to-head with the discounters.

The latest changes have been accelerated by a threadbare economic recovery that has left U.S. grocers' profits squeezed by rising food prices and shoppers' inability or unwillingness to spend more.

Indeed, Delhaize sales in stores open more than a year declined 0.4 percent in the quarter ended Dec. 30. Worse, the company's 1 percent overall sales gain was less than half the increase in wholesale food prices.

Driving the decision to close marginally performing stores was the chance to cut $60 million in annual expenses.

"This will enable us to focus on our successful repositioning of Food Lion," said Ron Hodge, CEO of Delhaize America, which runs 1,650 stores. "The most successful markets are where we have strong store density or high market share."

The strategy goes beyond closing stores. About 700 Food Lions are being refit with more focus on price and perishables. Food Lion will give up on Bloom, a decadelong experiment in bigger, more upscale stores with a punched-up selection of perishables. All 42 remaining Bloom stores will be closed or converted to Food Lions.

Bottom Dollar Food, a limited-assortment chain of 22 drugstore-sized stores that sells mostly national brands in the Middle Atlantic states, will be expanded and open in Pittsburgh and northeast Ohio.

"We confirm our plans to add hundreds of Bottom Dollar stores in the next five years," the company said in a statement.

Delhaize's stock price fell 10 percent to close at $53.72 Thursday, down $5.88.

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

Sweetbay parent overhauls Food Lion with cost cutting 01/12/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2012 5:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.