D&W Cuts 150 Jobs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- D&W Food Centers Inc. here is eliminating 150 jobs in an effort to remain competitive. The staff cuts amount to about 10 percent of the regional grocer's workforce, and include positions at the executive level and corporate facilities, as well as in 20 retail locations in West Michigan that are owned by the Robert Woodrick family.

The independent’s latest belt-tightening move follows similar measures that began more than three years ago. The most recently announced staff reductions do not include jobs at D&W's Fresh Thyme Catering division.

Although D&W officials were not immediately available for comment, in local reports the chain's v.p., Ron Cox, was quoted as saying the move was, "a difficult but necessary tactic to deploy to ensure we remain a viable business in the highly competitive food industry."

Of the challenges facing independents today, Cox said, "We see more (grocery-carrying businesses) coming into our market, along with what already is here, and constantly making changes." The Grand Rapids Press reported that the 62-year-old chain is not for sale, and has no plans to close shop for good.

In recent years, the company has labored to find its place in its hyper-competitive marketplace, which includes the likes of Meijer Inc., Family Fare Supermarkets, Wal-Mart and Target, as well as numerous smaller regional operators.

D&W nonetheless continues a reinvestment plan in core markets. Earlier this year, it remodeled a store in the Gaslight Village area of Grand Rapids, and it is also expanding its Caledonia, Mich. store.

Since 2002, D&W has closed several stores in Fremont, South Haven, St. Joseph, and Stevensville, Mich., concentrating its efforts instead on units closer to Grand Rapids. Starbucks Coffee Shops have been added in 12 stores, and pharmacies are also being added "where they make sense," Cox said.

The family-owned and -operated D&W has approximately 1,900 employees in 20 retail locations, a central transportation center, a central kitchen, and Fresh Thyme Catering.
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