AFS to Close Montana DCs

SALT LAKE CITY — Associated Food Stores [2] here this week said  it plans to close its distribution centers in Helena and Billings, Mont., and to consolidate warehouse operations for its nearly 100 Montana and Wyoming customers at its facility in Farr West, Utah.

Operations at the Helena and Billings centers are scheduled to close April 14, the company said. The Billings facility is 180,000 square feet, while the Helena warehouse is 163,000 square feet.

According to the company, the decision to close the two facilities resulted from a detailed analysis conducted throughout 2012, which led Associated to determine that moving distribution to the Farr West facility will result in greater efficiencies, including a greater selection of items, improved services and more competitive costs.

It plans to reduce the number of workers by approximately 50 in the Helena facility and 56 in the Billings facility, it said, while maintaining a retail support team of approximately 25 people — 15 in Billings and 10 in Helena — to provide assistance to members there. However, because additional positions will be needed at the Farr West distribution center, those will be offered to some of the Montana-based workers, the company said.

Associated said the consolidation is part of its renewed commitment to help its retail members become more profitable. It said its financial performance has "improved significantly" over the last 18 months, with the company ahead of plan for the current fiscal year.

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