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July 29. 2013 7:05PM

Shaw's to close six supermarkets in NH

Shaw's Supermarkets is closing six New Hampshire locations by Sept. 2, the company announced on Monday, with Manchester, Keene, Seabrook, Goffstown, Tilton and West Lebanon each scheduled to lose a store.

The company launched several initiatives recently in an attempt to regain customer share from competitors like Market Basket and Hannaford, but could not forestall the closures.

"We strive to ensure the success of all our stores, however, it is occasionally necessary for us to close those that are not meeting company goals or that do not fit into our long-term strategy," said Steve Sylven, external communications manager. "As a company and as responsible business owners, it is imperative to the overall health and future of the company that we run profitable stores."

Sylven said the stores in question have not been profitable for quite some time, despite the best efforts of the company, including recent pricing and marketing initiatives. According to the Shaw's websites, there are 34 stores in New Hampshire.

One of the stores to be closed is at 375 South Willow St. in Manchester, where customer John Tonneson was not surprised to hear the news Monday night.
 
 
Tonneson said he wasn’t impressed with the selection of meats or prepared fruits during his first visit to the location in a while.
 
 
“I had forgotten. Tonight, it sort of reminded me. I was just thinking I probably wouldn’t come back,” Tonneson said.
 
 
Shaw's recently eliminated the use of a rewards card, and said it would instead mark down prices across the board. It also introduced aggressive coupon matching and doubling strategies. But it appears to have been too little, too late, for the stores in question.

"We have not been able to reposition them to better compete in the marketplace and don't anticipate being able to change this trend," said Sylven. "While the decision to close a store is always difficult, given the impact on associates and customers, it was made only after careful evaluation and was guided by what is best for the company's ongoing success and future growth."

Sylven said the company continues to evaluate the viability of all of its stores, but does not anticipate any additional closures at this time.

"This is not reflective of the overall health of Shaw's and Star Market," he said. "The company has, and will, continue to make investments into our business as we look to regain our position as the preeminent grocer in New England. Part of that is making the difficult, but necessary decisions like closing stores to ensure the long-term viability of Shaw's and Star Market."

Sylven could not provide a precise number of affected employees in New Hampshire, but said the stores have on average 80 to 100 associates per location.

"We're going to be looking at transferring as many of these impacted employees as possible to other area stores," he said.

The stores to be closed are at 270 Lafayette Road, Seabrook; 553 Mast Road, Goffstown; 375 South Willow St., Manchester; 75 Laconia Road, Tilton; 250 Plainfield Road, West Lebanon; and 354 Winchester St., Keene.dsolomon@unionleader.com



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