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Supervalu's distribution center in Hopkins will now become the western regional center of its restructured wholesale division. 2013 file photo.

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Supervalu reshapes wholesale division

  • Article by: Mike Hughlett
  • Star Tribune
  • March 20, 2014 - 8:43 PM

Supervalu Inc. is streamlining its wholesale grocery business, shedding a net of 80 jobs but adding more positions in the Twin Cities than it is cutting here.

The Eden Prairie-based company will consolidate its distribution business from three regions to two, forming new east and west teams. They will be located in Hopkins, where Supervalu has a large distribution center, and in Mechanicsville, Va.

Supervalu will significantly downsize its regional office in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., 35 miles south of Milwaukee near the Illinois border.

The changes will reduce operating costs and lead to an immediate loss of 200 positions throughout Supervalu’s wholesale operations, about 160 of which will be in Pleasant Prairie, said Jeff Swanson, a Supervalu spokesman. The jobs affected are office positions, not warehouse jobs.

Supervalu said it expects to fill 120 new jobs created by the reorganization, resulting in a net loss of 80 jobs. In Hopkins, 25 jobs will be cut, Swanson said, but about 75 new posts will be created, leading to a net gain of about 50. Laid-off workers will have an opportunity to apply for the new positions.

Supervalu’s wholesale business has become increasingly important to the company after it unloaded its four largest grocery chains last year in a $3.3 billion deal. With the big retail chains gone, wholesaling became Supervalu’s largest business, accounting for almost half of its revenue, up from 23 percent.

Supervalu made its name in grocery distribution long before it became a prominent retailer, owner of chains including Cub Foods. But wholesaling is a shrinking industry.

Supervalu closed its distribution warehouse in Pleasant Prairie last year, but kept a substantial management staff in Wisconsin.

Cub gets new leadership

The head of the Pleasant Prairie office, Bill Chew, will become president of the wholesale region based in Hopkins. The current Hopkins leader, Mike Stigers, will become president of Cub Foods, the Twin Cities’ largest supermarket chain.

Brian Audette, a Supervalu veteran who’s been head of Cub for the past two years, will become senior vice president of merchandising, marketing and sales for Supervalu’s wholesale division.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

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