Winn-Dixie: Cutting Texas, Oklahoma stores, 5,300 jobs

Monday, May 6th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. said Monday the company will close all its stores in Texas and Oklahoma, laying off 5,300 workers.

Winn-Dixie operates 71 stores in Texas and five in Oklahoma. It also has a distribution center and dairy plant in Fort Worth, and will close those, too, the company said in a news release.

Winn-Dixie is one of the nation's largest retail food chains, operating about 1,150 stores in the Sunbelt with about 120,00 workers.

Winn-Dixie is negotiating to sell the dairy plant and the majority of the stores to various buyers, said company spokesman Mickey Clerc. If buyers cannot be found, the stores and the distribution center will be shuttered, he said.

``We are negotiating for a buyer on most of those stores,'' Clerc said. ``We are working hard to see that it happens.''

The transactions should be completed by the end of the company's fiscal year, June 26.

Continued losses and a reduction of market share forced the decision, said the release.

Severance packages will be offered to most employees who remain with Winn-Dixie until the closings, Clerc said.

``The exiting of our Texas and Oklahoma operations will allow us to focus our management talent and capital in our core markets where we get a higher return for our shareholders,'' said Al Rowland, president and chief executive officer.

The closings will result in a one-time non-recurring charge of approximately $75 million after-tax, or 53 cents per share, the company said.

It estimated that about $90 million will be coming in from the sale of the properties and the liquidation of inventories.

The closings are anticipated to decrease future annual sales by approximately $630 million per year, but positively impact annual net earnings by approximately $31 million or 22 cents per share.