Md. Supervalu plant, 2 in Pa. to be closed

BUSINESS DIGEST

February 16, 2007|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,Sun reporter

Supermarket giant Supervalu Inc. is closing its Harford County grocery distribution center and two others in Pennsylvania because the company wants to consolidate its supply chain network.

The three centers, including those in Harrisburg and Easton, Pa., will be merged into the company's Lancaster, Pa., plant, the company announced Wednesday.

The move will affect 600 people, including 90 workers at the Perryman facility, Supervalu spokeswoman Haley Meyer said yesterday.

She would not say whether the affected workers would be laid off or relocated to Lancaster. The company said the consolidation is expected to take three years, but it did not know when the three distribution centers would close.

"We understand that some associates will be personally affected by this transition, and Supervalu is committed to assisting these individuals during this time," Meyer said in an e-mail yesterday.

Officials at the Harford County Office of Economic Development said Supervalu plans to work with them and the Susquehanna Workforce Network to offer employment assistance to workers. Supervalu has operated the Perryman facility since 1995.

"We are confident, due to the marketable nature of the employees' skills, new positions will be found quickly," said James C. Richardson, director of the county's economic development office.

Minneapolis-based Supervalu - which operates 2,500 retail grocery stores, including Shoppers Food & Pharmacy in the Baltimore area - became the third-largest supermarket retailer when it acquired Albertson's Inc. last year. The grocery industry has undergone a series of mergers in recent years.

Supervalu said folding the three centers into the 1.4 million-square-foot Lancaster facility would improve distribution operations. The company plans to use Lancaster as its newest location for supply chain automation.

The company said it expects to take charges of $30 million to $35 million over three years for costs related to employee severance payments and terminating lease agreements, among others.

hanah.cho@baltsun.com

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