Safeway cut 80 Arizona jobs Tuesday in the company’s Tempe and northwest Phoenix operations.
The supermarket giant’s California headquarters took the brunt of a 940-job companywide cutback aimed at reducing administrative expenses.
The local job losses included hourly and salaried positions, said Kara Glover, Safeway’s Phoenix division spokeswoman.
Administrative operations in Arizona include the divisional headquarters, distribution center and a corporate call center in Tempe, and a call center and corporate accounting office in northwest Phoenix.
The Tempe divisional headquarters, which manages 112 Arizona supermarkets and one in New Mexico, lost 20 of its 250 workers, said Brian Dowling, Safeway corporate spokesman. He said those workers, who mostly came to the divisional offices from the stores, could opt for store job openings.
None of the 600 Tempe distribution center workers were dumped and no supermarket employees were let go, Glover said.
Dowling did not know how many of the 60 corporate jobs lost in Arizona came from the Tempe call center. He said there were 1,261 corporate positions in Arizona before Tuesday’s cuts.
The laid-off employees received four to 26 weeks of severance pay depending on the length of service, Glover said.
Safeway blamed the cuts on the poor economy.
"Because of a prolonged economic downturn and a difficult operating environment, we need to lower our cost of doing business," said CEO Steve Burd in a statement. "Accordingly, we have taken this painful but necessary step of reducing our administrative office expenses. This will not affect any Safeway retail store employees. We are committed to serving our customers well, with a leaner administrative staff."
In its most recent financial report, Safeway said sales for the quarter that ended March 22, 2003 were $7.5 billion, up from $7.4 billion in the first quarter of 2002, primarily due to new store openings. Sales in stores open at least a year were flat, the company reported. Excluding the effect of fuel sales, samestore sales fell 1.8 percent. Gross profit was down and administrative expenses were up.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, with 1,694 stores in the United States and Canada, is one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America based on sales. The company said the 940 lost jobs were reductions from 7,000 administrative positions companywide.