KIRKLAND, Wash. - Larry's Markets here, operator of six upscale markets in the Seattle area, is reportedly reducing its corporate staff by 70%, with more cuts likely - at the same time its chief executive officer, Mark McKinney, has given up running daily operations.
Operations are being run by a consultant McKinney hired, although he has declined to name the consultant publicly, local sources indicated.
McKinney, grandson of the chain's founder, told local media there were no plans to close any stores.
The company's problems reportedly stem from increasing competition on the high end from Whole Foods Market, which operates two stores in the area, and from some poor strategic choices, including an attempt to operate a low-end store and an effort to present itself as Seattle's best wine source at a same time it was also trying to win customers to do their daily grocery shopping there.
There have also been inventory control problems, local reports said, and the company has been slow to pay all vendors on time.
Plans to open one or two new stores per year have been put on hold.
Larry's, founded in 1945, was one of the earliest purveyors of upscale perishables, with an expansive food-service counter, a service butcher, gourmet groceries and high-end housewares.