JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Though a Winn-Dixie grocery store on Beach Boulevard will be closing this summer, there are no other closures planned in Jacksonville at this time, a spokesperson for Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, said Tuesday.
Residents of the Madison Manor senior facility on Beach Boulevard told NewsJax Friday that the Winn-Dixie across the street, store No. 72, would be closing in June.
The company's store on Altama Avenue in Brunswick, Georgia, will also be closing in June.
An email was later sent to News4Jax, claiming more Winn-Dixie employees could lose their jobs by the end of May. In the email, a concerned person wrote, "two more stores could close" and "80 to 90 employees could be laid off" at Jacksonville Winn-Dixie stores.
News4Jax went to the store on San Jose Boulevard, then the one on Old St. Augustine Road, followed by the one on Baymeadows Road and finally to the Winn-Dixie on Beach Boulevard. At each store, an employee said off-camera that more changes are coming.
Joe Caldwell, corporate communications manager for Southeastern Grocers, told News4Jax on Tuesday that store No. 72 "is the only store that has been announced for closing," and "fortunately, there are no other other closures planned in Jacksonville at this time."
News4Jax also received a tip that several employees are being moved from full time to part time shifts and reducing their positions. An employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that it’s a bigger issue, “If employees don’t accept the changes, they are fired, and their wages are dropped.”
When News4Jax asked Southeastern Grocers about that and several other questions, Caldwell issued the following response:
Food retail is one of the most competitive industries in the country and this competition is increasing.
As we work hard to rebuild a strong and sustainable business for the future, we must make changes to ensure we deliver the right level of service for our customers, which is something these changes are intended to provide.
To achieve this, we’re going through a limited change of the roles and responsibilities in some of our stores, and these changes are different for each store depending on the size of the store and the number of customers the team serves every week.
This will provide us with the flexibility of hours to serve our customers more and provide the opportunity to further invest in lower prices.
The changes do include the introduction of some new job titles, such as Inventory Specialist, Evening Manager and other skill-specific roles.
These changes are set to ensure we have the right team at the store, at the right time for our customers.
Some changes are promotions, some new roles, some relocations and others, we are optimistic will be placed in alternative roles in the coming weeks.
We’re working with our associates individually through the placement process with career support services and training for new roles.
The placement process is designed to match the skills of each associate to the new roles and responsibilities that have been created.
We will continue to work with each associate individually over the coming weeks and months, while we transition to the new roles, and we are very optimistic that our associates will be placed in roles that they will find suitable for their skills. It is too early in the process to report the outcome of this.
We understand that times of uncertainty are very difficult and out of respect for our associates we are taking our time with each person to provide as much support as we can over the coming weeks.
Southeastern Grocers was not listed on floridajobs.org, a database that tracks layoffs, as of Tuesday.
The closure of store No. 72 isn't the only recent change. In November, Southeastern Grocers changed six of its Jacksonville stores to Harveys Supermarkets.
The company owns BI-LO, Harveys, Winn-Dixie and Fresco y Más grocery stores.
Below are some other questions that News4Jax asked Caldwell about the changes at Winn-Dixie and his responses.
Question: How many Southeastern Grocers (Winn Dixie, etc.) stores are currently open in Jacksonville?
Answer: We have 37 Winn-Dixie and seven Harveys stores in North Florida (Clay, Baker, St. Johns, Nassau and Duval counties).
Q: How many SEG (Winn Dixie, etc.) stores were closed in Jacksonville, in the past five years?
A: Since 2014, store no. 72 (7534 Beach Blvd., announced last week) is the only store that has been announced for closing.
Q: How many stores have been converted in the past five years in Florida?
A: There are 18 stores that have been converted in Florida the past year. This includes our seven Harveys Supermarkets conversions in Jacksonville and 11 Fresco y Más conversions in South Florida. In the last two years, Southeastern Grocers has injected millions of dollars in improvements and innovations into our Jacksonville Winn-Dixie locations.
Q: Store No. 72 was closed. Will any other Winn Dixie stores be converted or closed this year in Jacksonville
A: From time to time, we have to make the difficult decision to close underperforming stores. These decisions are not made lightly. Fortunately, there are no other closures planned in Jacksonville at this time. We are constantly monitoring the needs of each market to ensure our stores provide our customers the variety and selection they’re looking for.
Q: Will Southeastern Grocers have any layoffs in the state of Florida this year?
A: At Southeastern Grocers, we are working hard to improve and create an efficient and effective store experience for our customers and our teams. To achieve this, we’re going through a limited change of the roles and responsibilities in our stores. These changes will be rolling-out over the next few months, and we’re working with our associates personally to ensure they’re taken care of, as each store and job is slightly different. We are doing all that we can to support our associates through this transition.