Newswatch

BRUNO'S SEEKS 10 STORE CLOSURES Bruno's Supermarkets last week sought permission to close 10 stores as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. The retailer asked the court to approve the appointment of a liquidator to conduct going-out-of-business sales and close the locations by March 31. The stores include Bruno's locations in Montgomery, Birmingham, Homewood and Auburn, Ala., and Food

BRUNO'S SEEKS 10 STORE CLOSURES

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bruno's Supermarkets last week sought permission to close 10 stores as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. The retailer asked the court to approve the appointment of a liquidator to conduct going-out-of-business sales and close the locations by March 31. The stores include Bruno's locations in Montgomery, Birmingham, Homewood and Auburn, Ala., and Food World locations in Bessemer, Montgomery, Wetumpka, Adamsville, Fairhope and Millbrook, Ala. Also last week, the court named a seven-member official committee of unsecured creditors including suppliers Coca-Cola Enterprises, Buffalo Rock Co. and Flowers Foods; distributor C&S Wholesale Grocers; marketers Vertis Inc. and Palladeo; and the insurance company Cardinal Health.

CALIF. RETAILERS CUT COSTS: REPORT

LOS ANGELES — Southern California supermarket chains are reducing labor hours to cope with shrinking sales, the Los Angeles Times reported last week. Ralphs, a division of Kroger Co., Cincinnati, is demoting more than 140 meatcutters to clerks — cutting their pay by more than a third to $13.47 an hour. The paper also reported that Vons, a division of Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., has laid off 97 workers and is reclassifying 171 full-time workers to part-time — a move that could reduce their wages by up to 40%, union officials noted in the story. The paper said Minneapolis-based Supervalu planned to close four Albertsons stores in the region last week and five more this week. The store closings are part of Supervalu's previously announced plan to close 50 locations this year. The Times also said Supervalu intends to convert at least three Albertsons stores in Southern California to the Lucky banner, which it uses at stores with more limited selections and services.

H-E-B PLANS NEW TEXAS WAREHOUSE

TEMPLE, Texas — H.E. Butt Grocery Co. is planning a 400,000-square-foot distribution center here, according to local reports. The San Antonio-based chain, which operates about 300 stores, said the new facility will serve about 50 Texas locations between the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin, according to a report in the Temple Daily Telegram. Construction could begin as soon as July.

ROUNDY'S CAP-EX REPORTED AT $90M

MILWAUKEE — Roundy's plans to spend approximately $90 million on new and remodeled stores this year, according to Bob Mariano, chairman, president and chief executive officer. In an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mariano said the company also plans to pay down between $50 million and $75 million of pre-paid debt, compared with $75 million last year. Asked if Roundy's is seeking a buyer for the company, Mariano told the newspaper, “No. We're not actively pursuing anything.”

HARPS FOOD STORES ENTERS TULSA

TULSA, Okla. — Harps Food Stores opened its first location here in a renovated space formerly belonging to Albertsons, reports said last week. The Springdale, Ark.-based retailer's nearest store is in Locust Grove, Okla., about 48 miles away. Harps is occupying 37,000 square feet at the former Albertsons store. A drug store had previously taken a portion of the building.