100119 Kroger

The Kroger store in Ronceverte on Tuesday. (Jenny Harnish/The Register-Herald)

Kroger has eliminated a number of middle management roles at stores in West Virginia, Kroger Corporate Affairs Manager Allison McGee reported Wednesday.

McGee's statement confirmed reports by local Kroger employees that store managers in the Raleigh County stores had been dismissed as part of corporate restructuring of the store. McGee would not state the number of employees statewide or in southern West Virginia who may be impacted by the cuts.

But some have lost their jobs.

"(A) number of middle management roles have been eliminated," she said. "Beyond this clarification, we will not comment on personnel matters."

CNBC reported that the elimination of middle management and laying off of workers is due to competition from Walmart and Aldi and Kroger's push to keep up with online competitors.

Based in Cincinnati, OH, Kroger has about 443,000 full-time and part-time employees in 35 states and Washington DC. The corporation owns additional smaller grocery stores, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Dillon's and Ralph's.

In 2018, there were 36 Kroger stores in West Virginia with about 3,963 associates. Kroger closed a Smither's store in August 2018.

Kroger is the nation's second largest general retailer, behind Walmart, CNN Money reported in 2018, reporting $115.34 billion in earnings during fiscal year 2016.

Media in Dayton, Ohio, reported that employees there are already being laid off.

Krogers workers are represented by collective bargaining agreements, many by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

Local Kroger employees have been waiting for news from Kroger corporate since Monday, when a managers' meeting ended with at least one manager being let go. The manager was from the Beaver store, one store manager told The Register-Herald.

Representatives of #400 United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) in Charleston reported that the meetings with Kroger managers in the Beckley area were expected to continue through Thursday.

UFCW #400 Regional Director Bryan Bond reported Wednesday that he had reached out to Kroger's headquarters earlier in the week on behalf of Kroger workers, after union field representatives reported that employees had questions about the future of the company.

Bond said he had not received an answer from Kroger Corporate by Wednesday afternoon.

McGee offered a statement from Kroger Mid-Atlantic.

“At Kroger, we are constantly evolving our business to ensure we build the teams and leaders who will deliver an amazing experience for our customers and associates both now and in the future," the statement reads. "A key part of this evolution is moving resources closer to the customer by putting our top talent into our store leadership positions.” 

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