Sunday, February 18, 2018
Business

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 [email protected] or (727) 893-8252.

Comments
Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Gofundme.com pages proliferated almost as soon as cops took Nikolas Cruz into custody after Wednesday’s 17-death massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Donors must parse the funding pages from the fraudulent.Read More: 17 dead,...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Trump administration recommends stiff penalties on steel, aluminum imports

Trump administration recommends stiff penalties on steel, aluminum imports

The Tampa arm of Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau S.A. was cautiously optimistic Friday after the Trump administration took a big step toward a policy Gerdau has been vocally advocating for — higher tariffs on imported steel. "We’re hopeful that President...
Published: 02/16/18
Facebook forges ahead with kids app despite expert criticism

Facebook forges ahead with kids app despite expert criticism

Associated PressNEW YORK — Facebook is forging ahead with its messaging app for kids, despite child experts who have pressed the company to shut it down and others who question Facebook’s financial support of some advisers who approved of the app. Me...
Published: 02/16/18
Inexpensive Tampa Bay homes gain the most value of any in U.S.

Inexpensive Tampa Bay homes gain the most value of any in U.S.

Owners of affordable homes in the Tampa Bay region are seeing the biggest gains in equity among the nation’s top 20 housing markets. A bay area home now worth $110,000 rose 20 percent in value over the past year while a house now worth $337,400 incr...
Published: 02/16/18
Amid CareerSource controversy, allegations of a love affair, big raises and family favoritism at the top

Amid CareerSource controversy, allegations of a love affair, big raises and family favoritism at the top

The anonymous letter described a possible love affair at the top of the local jobs center. President and CEO Edward Peachey was in a romantic relationship with top administrator Haley Loeun, it said.It described how Loeun was seen at a conference co...
Published: 02/16/18
Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s experimenting with takeout-only locations

Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s experimenting with takeout-only locations

Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill have become household names in casual dining. Now, their parent company, Tampa-based Bloomin’ Brands is taking the "dining" part out in a concept that it’s bringing to Tampa Bay for the first time. A ne...
Published: 02/16/18
Which Tampa Bay ZIPs had the priciest, least expensive and most house sales in 2017?

Which Tampa Bay ZIPs had the priciest, least expensive and most house sales in 2017?

If you bought or sold a house in Tampa Bay last year, you were a player in one of Florida’s hottest real estate markets.Even though prices eased a bit from their torrid pace in 2016, the median cost of a single family home shot up 11 percent. That’s ...
Published: 02/16/18
Florida’s liquor license lottery can make you a ton of money. So why is it such a secret?

Florida’s liquor license lottery can make you a ton of money. So why is it such a secret?

Every year, millions of people play the Florida Lotto. Their chances of winning are about as great as those of being struck by a comet. Fewer than 12,000 enter a much lesser known lottery that also is run by the state. Yet the odds of winning are vas...
Published: 02/16/18
Travel insurance company brings tree houses, beer kegs and creativity to former church

Travel insurance company brings tree houses, beer kegs and creativity to former church

ST. PETERSBURG — Neither the Lutherans who first occupied the 4300 block of Central Avenue, nor the evangelical congregation that followed could ever have imagined tree houses sprouting in their church sanctuary.Yet that’s one of the plans of new own...
Published: 02/16/18
Prosecutors drop drug case against ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini

Prosecutors drop drug case against ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini

TAMPA — ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini won’t be prosecuted on a drug trafficking charge filed by Tampa police this week, the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. The county’s top prosecutor instead applauded police for helpi...
Published: 02/15/18