Publicly traded Kroger Company—which counts among its major subsidiaries Kroger grocery stores, Harris Teeter, Ralphs and the Fred Meyer chain that exited the gun and ammunition business last year—is laying off hundreds of employees, according to CNBC and Supermarket News. The firm operates 2,759 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia, including nearly 800 convenience shops in 18 states. The corporation employs more than 440,000 people.
The company’s Fred Meyers chain caught the attention of Second Amendment supporters in 2018 when it stopped selling firearms and ammunition in its stores. The entire Kroger family of businesses pulled periodicals that feature modern sporting rifles from their shelves later the same year. Last month it went a step further by enacting a no-open-carry policy in its stores, regardless of legality. “Kroger has demonstrated with our actions that we recognize the growing chorus of Americans who are no longer comfortable with the status quo and who are advocating for concrete and common sense gun reforms,” Kroger Group Vice President of Corporate Affairs Jessica Adelman wrote in an announcement e-mailed to CNBC.
An official statement explains this month’s layoffs. “Store operating divisions are constantly evolving to ensure they build the teams and leaders who will deliver an amazing experience for customers and associates both now and in the future. As part of ongoing talent management, many store operating divisions are evaluating middle-management roles and team structures with an eye toward keeping resources close to the customer.” The announcement came only a week after a boycott of Oregon and southwest Washington Fred Meyer stores ended with officials from Fred Meyer, Albertsons, QFC and Safeway—all part of the Kroger group—reaching an agreement with the United Food and Retail Clerks Union on a new, 3-year labor contract.
Two weeks before news of the staff reduction surfaced, Kroger’s second-quarterly report for 2019 indicated sales grew by 0.5 percent when compared to the same period in 2018. For the first half of its 2019 reporting year, overall sales were down by 0.5 percent.