GASTONIA, N.C- Lowes Foods, a large super market chain servicing the east coast of the US, has announced that they will be closing all of their facilities in Gastonia, N.C, as of April 1st. A huge shock to the surrounding community and company employees, this statement followed the recent closings of Lowes Foods in the Hoffman Village Shopping Center and the Robinwood Crossing Center in the Gastonia, as well as last year’s market shut downs in Cary and West Jefferson.
The rapid shut down of multiple stores is explained by Lowes Foods as a company wide marketing strategy, aimed to promote overall business growth and profitability. The spokesmen of the corporation state that they have started their new business plan by closing their facilities in Gastonia, and will then move forward into “rebranding” all remaining stores throughout a transition period between 2015 and 2019. This long term goal has been designed to include the expectation of opening a market in Greenville, S.C by 2016.When Lowes was questioned about the multiple shut downs, spokeswoman Kimberly George stated that due to lease expiration coupled with poor performance for those individual stores, the best option for the company at the time was to reform their business plan. Ms. George did express her sympathies and regrets to the community and their Gastonia employees for the impact the change will have on their lives.
The effect of the shift is expected to leave approximately 160 workers without employment. Although only 37 positions are considered to be full time, the effect on the people surrounding community can be expected to be ghastly. The corporate representatives for Lowes Foods have also mentioned that, if possible, any employees effected by the closure would be offered positions at other stores or assisted in alternate ways. The likely hood of those “at risk” employees agreeing to commute outside their area, or what alternate methods of assistance Lowes Foods plans to offer, is still unclear. Also unclear, is the future plans for the two company-owned buildings that will be boarded up this April. During closures the super market chain experienced back in 2012, ten of the Lowes Foods stores were exchanged with Harris Teeter locations for a property swap, and an additional $26.5 million. This trade in locations did have a positive impact on the community, as it allowed the opportunity for those losing work to regain a career in a similar position and environment to the one they had just left. Whether Lowes Foods plans to perform a similar business deal with Harris Teeter, or another smaller supermarket company, again has not been disclosed to the press.
Overall, it seems the months and years in the near future will be a bumpy ride for those employed by Lowes Foods in the Carolinas and rest of the east coast, at this point it is unpredictable what, if any, additional measures the super market chain will take in order to promote growth.