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Hy-Vee's Helpful Smile 2020 Effort Could Include Staff Reductions

Hy-Vee Reveals Updates to Helpful Smile 2020 Effort
A Hy-Vee store in New Hope, Minn.

Hy-Vee Inc. has unveiled the latest updates to its Helpful Smile 2020 initiative, which was recently rolled out “with the goal of keeping Hy-Vee the best place to work and shop in America,” according to the West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer. These changes could include possible staff reductions, but the retailer stopped short of calling them layoffs.

"Some people will be promoted and others will be sent to other stores to fill voids that are there," Tina Pothoff, Hy-Vee's senior VP of communications, told Progressive Grocer. "Some positions could be reduced."

In what Hy-Vee describes as an effort to bolster its training and succession planning within the store management career path, starting this week, some Hy-Vee store directors will become known as district store directors, in which capacity they will oversee several stores as well as mentor store managers.

“With this change, some store directors will become store managers,” the company explained in a statement. “The store manager position will help better prepare those who want to become store directors/district store directors in the future. The store manager will also have oversight of the day-to-day operations at his/her store. This is part of our effort to remain the best place to build a career in retail and ensure all store directors have the training they need before being selected for the role.”

Additionally, in what the company calls a bid to strengthen its dietitian program, Hy-Vee will reassign 30 of its in-store dietitians to the corporate team to support health-and-wellness efforts across the company, although store directors would still be allowed to implement their dietetic programs locally.

In revealing these updates, the grocer noted, “Our industry is continually evolving, which is why it’s imperative that we evolve with it.”

Hy-Vee noted that its recent decision to no longer keep its stores open 24 hours a day and to align its business hours with consumer shopping trends enabled it to reorganize both its overnight and daytime stocking procedures.

“This will make a difference to our customers, as the majority of our stocking will be done during times when customers are not shopping, helping to keep our aisles clear of clutter so customers can have a more pleasant shopping experience in our stores,” the company's statement said. “This move also allowed us to re-evaluate how we operate our stores so that we can become more efficient. Because of this, store directors will be making staffing changes over the upcoming weeks – which could include promotions, reallocations or reductions – to reflect the needs of their individual store.”

When PG followed up on the official statement for specifics on staff reductions, Pothoff said, "As a privately held company, there are some details that we will not share for proprietary reasons. Keep in mind that our statement also mentioned promotions, too."

The statement further noted: “We have a proud history of innovating to meet the needs of our customers. Today, the retail grocery industry continues to evolve and be incredibly competitive. Therefore, our local stores are making some changes to become more efficient while continuing to elevate our customers’ experience.”

Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 260 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.The company is No. 12 on PG’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.

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