Leedmark Shrinks Payroll

February 16, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

Leedmark, the giant "one-stop" combination grocery and discount store in Glen Burnie, has terminated 30 employees as part of a permanent staff cutback, the company said yesterday.

The layoffs, which included 10 management positions and 20 union workers, were the second indication of trouble to come out of Leedmark in the past week.

Last week, the parent company's board ousted its chairman, Didier Leconte, and replaced him with Richard Schroeder, who was brought in from outside the company.

The layoffs left Leedmark with a staff of 320, down almost one-third from the 450 it employed when the store opened in 1991.

Leedmark spokesman Edward Segal said the cutback was unlikea round of layoffs last winter, when the store let 94 employees go because of concerns about the economy. In that case, he said, most of the employees were rehired within a few months.

This time, Mr. Segal said, the economy was not the problem, and the job losses were permanent.

"There's definitely a learning curve that organizations go through," Mr. Segal said, explaining that the management had found it could operate the 130,000-square-foot store with fewer people.

When Leedmark brought its scaled-down version of the European "hypermarket" to the United States in May 1991, it hailed its Glen Burnie store as a revolutionary concept in shopping -- offering everything from "Sonys to baloney."

If the store succeeded, Leedmark officials said, it could be the first of 20 "hybrid markets" in the mid-Atlantic region.

But last week, the company pulled back from its stated intent to build a second store.

At the same time, the parent company, New Eldis Corp., brought in Mr. Schroeder, an executive with Otis Elevator in London, to replace Mr. Leconte, who left because of what Mr. Segal called "a difference of opinion with the board over the strategic direction of the company."

Many retail experts remain skeptical about whether American consumers will accept even a modified version of the "hypermarket" concept.

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