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Ralphs Says It Will Shut 15 Stores : Supermarkets: About 500 employees will be reassigned.


Ralphs Grocery Co. said Friday that it plans to close about 15 supermarkets that are unprofitable or too close to other stores that were acquired as part of the purchase of Ralphs by Yucaipa Cos. earlier this week.

The approximately 500 employees at the stores will be reassigned to other supermarkets, the company said. The stores will be closed over the next eight to nine weeks. It would not identify the stores being closed.

Yucaipa already owned the Alpha Beta, Boys, Viva and Food 4 Less chains. The new owners plan to convert 110 of those stores to Ralphs while converting some Ralphs to the Food 4 Less warehouse format.

Some of the 15 markets to be closed are Yucaipa stores that compete directly with nearby Ralphs and would be unprofitable if converted, said Ralphs President Al Marasca. Some Ralphs will be closed because they compete directly with Food 4 Less stores.

Executives said the displaced workers will fill Yucaipa and Ralphs vacancies created during a hiring freeze in place for the past 18 months.

Earlier this week, Ralphs executives said that 100 administrative jobs and 50 jobs in warehousing would be eliminated.

With the addition of Yucaipa's chains, Ralphs now has nearly 400 stores. Yucaipa acquired Ralphs for $1.5 billion, but it acknowledged the stronger presence of its former competitor by deciding to operate under the Ralphs' name.

The merger gives the new Ralphs 27% of the Southern California market, vaulting it past longtime leader Vons.

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