Food Lion closing its two Newnan supermarkets; 113 U.S. stores to close

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This sign was posted Thursday at the Food Lion on U.S. 29 North, Jackson Street in Newnan that the store is closing.

By ALEX McRAE alex@newnan.com Belgian supermarket group Delhaize, which owns the Food Lion grocery store chain, announced Thursday it is closing 113 U.S. stores, including the two in Coweta County. The Coweta County stores -- located at 487 Jackson St., Newnan, and 2005 Hwy. 16 in western Coweta -- are expected to close within 30 days.
The corporate decision also brings the closing of 13 Bloom and Bottom Dollar Food stores in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. The 113 Food Lion closings are in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. In announcing the closings, Ron Hodge, CEO of Delhaize America, said in a press release: "Today's actions will continue to solidify our U.S. operations and enable our company to focus on our successful brand strategy repositioning at Food Lion and the expansion of Bottom Dollar Food in new markets. While these were difficult decisions given the impact on our associates, customers and communities, we believe these actions will enable us to better serve our customers in our markets with high density, while positioning the company for future growth." It is difficult to judge how the closings will impact the local economy, but city of Newnan officials contacted Food Lion representatives Thursday to discuss the matter. "We were very surprised to hear the announcement that the Newnan store is being closed," said City Manager Cleatus Phillips. "This location serves a large geographic area of Newnan and Coweta County. While the closing has a direct impact upon city revenues, we are concerned about the indirect impact upon the local economy due to job loss. City staff has been in contact with Food Lion representatives and the property management company in hopes of retaining a grocery store at this location." The store closings will also affect at least one Newnan charitable organization. Alison Wallace is executive director of Bridging the Gap, a non-profit organization that distributes food to those in need. Wallace said that Food Lion has been a wonderful partner with her organization and normally donates from 400 to 1,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each day to Bridging the Gap for delivery to hungry families and individuals. Wallace said Bridging the Gap currently provides food for about 800 people each week. "I hate to see [Food Lion] close," Wallace said. "They have been very helpful and supportive of us. But I know that God is in control and will help us meet our needs." Wallace said her biggest concern is helping care for the workers facing the loss of jobs. Wallace estimated that close to 100 employees and their families could be affected. She said Bridging the Gap will work closely with Food Lion employees to help them find another job and assist them in any way possible during the job search. Wallace said in addition to providing direct support, her organization would help coordinate efforts with other agencies in the area, including the Ga. Department of Labor, to help fired Food Lion employees find work. "What we need to do is come together as a community to help," Wallace said. According to information on the Food Lion corporate website, Delhaize America plans to accelerate the rollout of 600-700 Food Lion stores in other markets. Company officials said that as a result of the closings, almost 5,000 workers nationwide will lose their jobs. In addition to the two Newnan area stores, Food Lions will close in Carrollton, College Park, Conyers, Dallas, Douglasville, Fayetteville, Gainesville, Jefferson, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Evans, Martinez, Chatsworth, Fort Oglethorpe, Rossville, Trenton, Waycross, Macon, Warner Robins, Garden City, Rincon and Savannah.


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