Shaw’s to Lay Off 700 People in New England

— Some employees at Shaw’s supermarkets in the Upper Valley are losing their jobs as part of a company-wide layoff.

Shaw’s parent company, Supervalu Inc., said yesterday it is cutting 700 positions at Shaw’s stores throughout New England, two weeks after it posted a second quarter loss and said it was considering selling the company.

The supermarket giant said that the job cuts will take place at 169 Shaw’s and Star Market stores. Shaw’s, with about 17,000 staffers, is one of the oldest supermarkets in the U.S., dating back to the 1860s.

Shaw’s has two stores in West Lebanon, along with stores in Newport, Woodsville, Randolph, Springfield, Vt., Ludlow, Vt., and Walpole, N.H.

Steve Sylven, a spokesman for Shaw’s in its Massachusetts headquarters, said all stores will remain open with the same hours, but that each will have some layoffs.

“We’re not getting into specifics about the impact on individual locations, other than to say all 169 locations will be impacted by this,” he said.

Managers at both West Lebanon stores declined to comment yesterday.

Sylven said the layoffs were due to a “combination of the competitive landscape and the challenging economy we continue to operate in.” Supervalu, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., fired its CEO in July after closing stores and suspending its dividend.

Competition has grown exceedingly intense and grocers are being forced to cut prices to keep cash-strapped customers from switching to competitors as they look for bargains. Supermarkets are traditionally a low-margin business.

Supervalu has about 125,000 employees overall.