Sweetbay supermarkets warned the state of Florida that it plans to lay off 364 employees, beginning Jan. 1.
The move was not unexpected, as the Sweetbay’s operations are being acquired by another company, Bi-Lo Holdings LLC, which operates stores under that name and Winn-Dixie. Any employees joining the new company would technically be let go from Sweetbay amid the transition, hence the notice to the state.
The current Sweetbay headquarters in Tampa would likely be shut down, as that building was not part of the transaction and Winn-Dixie’s headquarters are in Jacksonville. The bulk of Sweetbay employees that relate to the “Warn Notice” on Wednesday have been interviewing for new positions at Winn-Dixie, though they have not yet heard the outcome of that process, said Sweetbay spokeswoman Nicole LeBeau.
All this comes after a January announcement by Sweetbay’s Belgian-based parent company Delhaize Group to close 33 “underperforming” Sweetbay stores out of 105 in Florida, all of them by February. Then in May, Bi-Lo Holdings announced deal with Delhaize to acquire substantially all of the stores in the Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s supermarket chains from Delhaize for $265 million in cash, and reopen some closed Sweetbays.
Under the deal, the “Sweetbay” brand will be retired, and those stores will be re-named Winn-Dixie. Some building permits to make that change have already been filed in city offices.