The Food Lion located in Fort Oglethorpe’s Cloud Springs Plaza off LaFayette Road and Rossville’s store on West Gordon Avenue are slated for closure.
But the Food Lion off Alabama Highway in Ringgold and the store off U.S. 27 in Chickamauga will remain open.
An apology letter addressed to “valued customers” is taped to each cashier’s station inside the Fort Oglethorpe Food Lion. It reads, “We regret to inform you that our store will close by Feb. 15, 2012. We appreciate your loyalty and apologize for the inconvenience. If you have any questions or require assistance, please let us know.”
“I’m very upset about their closing,” Kisha Duncan of Rossville said. Duncan says she’s shopped at the Fort Oglethorpe Food Lion for the past 14 years and prefers Food Lion to other local supermarkets. “It’s convenient and always seems to do good business. I don’t understand why they’re closing.”
Fort Oglethorpe Food Lion store manager Wes Scott would not comment on the imminent closure. Scott referred inquiries to the company’s media relations department.
However, the collective mood inside the store was clearly subdued the morning of Thursday, Jan. 12, the day after the closing were announced. Duncan said the closing was the only topic of conversation she heard between customers and store workers.
The closings translate into 4,900 employees losing their jobs. Food Lion states on the company website it will provide severance to eligible employees and promises to work with government officials to assist with transition support. The supermarket chain also encourages soon-to-be displaced workers to apply for open positions within the company.
Delhaize America, the company that runs Food Lion stores, has more than 1,600 stores in 16 states in the eastern United States.
The Food Lion closures are part of the company’s strategy to “strengthen its U.S. portfolio,” according to a company news release. Once the company’s closures and conversions are complete, Food Lion will operate in 10 states and have 1,127 stores.
The two local Food Lion stores scheduled to close are among 113 Food Lions the company says are under performing in an increasingly competitive market.
In addition, the company will shutter seven of its Bloom stores and six of its Bottom Dollar food stores in overlapping Food Lion markets. The company plans to convert 64 Bloom and Bottom Dollar food stores in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia to Food Lion stores.
“Most associates working at converted stores will continue to work at these locations,” a company news release states.
Delhaize America also will discontinue operations at its distribution center in Clinton, Tenn.
“Food Lion is focused on repositioning our business for future growth,” said Cathy Green Burns, president of Food Lion. Burns said the company has determined the areas where there is “strong store density or high market share.”
Food Lion was founded in 1957 under the name Food Town in Salisbury, N.C., according to the company website. Today, Food Lion LLC is a member of the Delhaize Group, Delhaize America’s parent company, based in Brussels, Belgium. Food Lion’s affiliated supermarket entities include Bloom, Bottom Dollar, Harveys and Reid’s. Delhaize America employs a total of 107,000 full-time and part-time workers.