Supervalu cutting workers in Calif Albertsons unit
* Plans to cut 2,200-2,500 jobs in California and Nevada * Cuts to reduce Supervalu workforce by up to 13.2 percent * Shares down less than 1 percent By Lisa Baertlein June 6 (Reuters) - Supervalu Inc is cutting 2,200 to 2,500 store jobs at Albertsons supermarkets in California and Nevada - a workforce reduction of up to 13.2 percent - as the grocery chain aims to lower costs, pay down debt and catch up with rivals. The third-largest U.S. supermarket operator expects to lay off workers from all 247 Albertsons stores in the company's Albertsons Southern California division, its largest by store count. The workforce reductions will begin the week of June 17 and should be completed near July 1. The company will also work with the union during the process, Supervalu said in a statement. Supervalu, which has been lagging rivals like Kroger Co and Safeway Inc, said it expects the move to affect a small number of positions at any specific store location. "A decision of this nature is never easy, but it is the necessary step for us to take to help improve our business and accelerate our turnaround," Dan Sanders, president of the Albertsons Southern California Division, said in a statement. Supervalu has been working to get its everyday pricing as low as bigger players, including Kroger, Safeway and Wal-Mart Stores Inc, amid fierce competition and higher food costs. At the same time, it has been paying off debt from its $12.4 billion acquisition of more than 1,100 Albertsons stores in 2006. That burden has hampered Supervalu's ability to compete more aggressively and stand out from rivals. Shares in Supervalu were down 0.7 percent at $4.50 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock .
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