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What you need to know for 05/01/2017

Price Chopper chops 80 corporate jobs

Price Chopper chops 80 corporate jobs

Price Chopper announced Wednesday that it’s cutting 80 jobs.

Price Chopper announced Wednesday that it’s cutting 80 jobs.

Why? Pick a reason: rising wage costs, rising commodity costs, rising fuel costs and rising health care costs. Fewer people getting food stamps and reduced benefits for those who still are. More grocery stores entering the Capital Region — Price Chopper’s native and most concentrated market. Not to mention increased competition from traditionally non-food stores that now offer food.

“Operating a retail business that lives on narrow margins and employs 22,000 people has become increasingly more challenging given today’s realities,” Price Chopper President and CEO Jerry Golub said in a statement.

The positions being cut are a mix of management, field, clerical and administrative jobs. Employees were notified Wednesday. Some jobs have been cut through attrition, though it’s unclear how many.

The supermarket chain made a similar announcement in April 2013 when it laid off 80 administrative employees from its $33 million Schenectady headquarters and Rotterdam distribution facility. In that case, 46 of the 80 positions were lost through attrition over a period of six months.

Price Chopper spokesman Jon Pierce said Wednesday the company is not disclosing how many positions will be eliminated through attrition this time around.

“Today is a very challenging day for all of us, as the current business climate has led us to eliminate approximately 80 positions in the company, some through attrition and some with incumbents,” Golub said. “The decisions were not made lightly, as we understand the impact that they have on families and communities. We are doing everything possible to ease this transition for our displaced teammates, by way of severance packages, extended benefits and outplacement services.”

In-store positions were not affected, which comes as no surprise given the supermarket chain's focus on elevating the customer shopping experience — an effort that goes hand-in-hand with its push to modernize its brand. The chain is 82 years old, one of the longest-running supermarkets in the Capital Region.

Since 2011, ShopRite has opened four stores in Price Chopper's core market and is looking at a possible fifth. Walmart has announced a new supercenter and grocery selection in Latham and recently opened a grocery-only neighborhood market in Niskayuna. Healthy food stores have opened in local malls and shopping centers.

But as residents were successfully lobbying for new grocery options, like the 2012 opening of Trader Joe’s in Colonie, or rushing the grand openings of first-time arrivals like Whole Foods just last week, Price Chopper has been investing millions of dollars in a new concept for its next generation of stores. The result is Market Bistro in Latham.

Price Chopper announced the concept store would be its most ambitious project ever and unlike any other supermarket in the region. It officially opened this spring and is not just a supermarket, but a restaurant, coffeehouse, fromagerie, health clinic, pharmacy, cooking school and food court featuring 17 prepare-to-order food stations.

In the midst of so much change, efficiencies at the administrative level have become “more imperative than ever” for the chain.

“Despite the difficulty of the decisions implemented today, we are very optimistic about the future of our company and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead,” Golub said. “Though painful, these actions serve to better position Price Chopper as we move forward, both strategically and competitively.”

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