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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 1:47 pm | Fair 36º

 
 
 
 
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Still-New Haggen Stores Cut Employee Hours

Washington-based chain recently reopened six local grocery stores under its brand

Employees at some of the six new Haggen grocery stores in Santa Barbara County will see their hours cut as the brand tries to find its place in the local market.
Employees at some of the six new Haggen grocery stores in Santa Barbara County will see their hours cut as the brand tries to find its place in the local market. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Employees at some of the six new Haggen grocery stores in Santa Barbara County will see their hours cut as the brand tries to find its place in the local market.

The news comes less than a month after the Bellingham, Wash.-based chain completed transitioning all its Central Coast Haggen stores from former Albertsons or Vons locations.

That process began this spring when Haggen converted some of the 146 stores it picked up across five states from AB Acquisition LLC and Safeway Inc., the entity created when Safeway (owner of Vons) merged with Albertsons this year.

It seems the competition from other grocery stores was fiercer than expected, according to a statement from Haggen Pacific Southwest CEO Bill Shaner.

Employees feeling an unknown level of impact include those working at former Vons/Haggens stores at 175 N. Fairview Ave. and 163 S. Turnpike Road in Goleta and 850 Linden Ave. in Carpinteria.

Former Albertsons/Haggens stores at 1500 North H St. in Lompoc and 2010 Cliff Drive and 3943 State St. in Santa Barbara will also be affected, although company representatives wouldn’t confirm how many would see a cut or be laid off.

“As we introduce Haggen throughout Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, our challenge is to establish and grow the brand in new markets, while transitioning former Albertsons/Vons customers,” the CEO said. “The competitive activity launched in response to our entry into the marketplace — while expected — has been unprecedented. 

To ensure we’re operating as efficiently as possible, we have made the very difficult decision to temporarily cut back on staff hours at our stores.

“Reductions will vary by store and will be made in the best interest of the business, our associates, and our guests. We have thoughtful plans in place to generate excitement and traffic into our stores," Shaner said. "We will continue to closely monitor performance with the goal of restoring hours as we build customer affinity for Haggen and establish ourselves in the competitive grocery space.”

With the acquisition, Haggen expanded to 164 stores with 106 pharmacies from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies, and to a workforce of more than 10,000 employees from one of 2,000.

The company had said all Albertsons and Safeway store employees would be able to become employees of Haggen, along with store management teams.

Haggen representatives said the company does regular checks at competitors’ stores to make sure prices are fair and reasonable and that — when compared to those stores — all were within a few cents of each other on like items.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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