MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu here said the announcements last week that three of its corporate chains plan to close a total of 14 stores before the end of February were part of a deliberate effort by the distributor to eliminate negative operating costs before its starts its new fiscal year Feb. 27.
“We announced these store closings to ensure that we can eliminate these negative operating costs and better position the company for a healthier start to our new fiscal year,” Mike Siemienas, national media manager, said in a prepared statement.
The closures involve five units of Shaw's Supermarkets in New England (three in Massachusetts, two in Connecticut); five units of Acme Markets (three in southern New Jersey, two in Pennsylvania); and four units of Albertsons in Southern California.
Siemienas did not rule out the possibility of additional store closings in the future.
He said the timing of a decision last week to settle a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Supervalu-owned Jewel-Osco was coincidental with the store closure announcements. “We ultimately chose to settle this case to avoid future litigation costs, put the matter behind us and focus on our current business initiatives,” he explained.
In settling the case, which involved alleged discrimination against employees with disabilities at the end of their medical leaves, Supervalu and Jewel-Osco did not admit culpability. “We believe we've fully complied with the law,” Siemienas said. “We do not discriminate on the basis of disability. In fact, Jewel-Osco has been consistently recognized for its efforts to hire and accommodate people with disabilities.”
The suit was filed in 2009, “and we decided it was cheaper to settle than to continue on,” he told SN.