Kroger lays off hundreds amid turnaround concerns

Grocery store chain Kroger is laying off hundreds of employees across its stores just weeks after executives cast doubt on the company’s ability to hit profit targets amid a turnaround effort.

“As part of ongoing talent management, many store operating divisions are evaluating middle management roles and team structures with an eye toward keeping resources close to the customer,” a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement. “Store divisions operate independently but all of them are taking steps to ensure they have the right talent in the right store leadership positions.”

The company did not say exactly how many job cuts were anticipated. Kroger had nearly 500,000 full-time and part-time employees across its stores as of fiscal 2018.

The layoffs came as the company invests in its online business and delivery service amid tough competition from Walmart, Albertsons and other rivals as part of its “Restock Kroger” initiative. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told analysts last month that the company was not “reconfirming” its three-year projection of $400 million in incremental operating profit tied to the measures.

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The profit warning sent shares tumbling even as Kroger reported quarterly profit that topped Wall Street’s expectations.

Kroger also owns and operates Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer and several other chains. The company’s stock fell roughly two percent in trading Wednesday and is down about nine percent so far this year.

Business Insider was first to report the Kroger layoffs.