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KROGER EMPLOYEES RATIFY NEW CONTRACT IN WEST VIRGINIA; KROGER TO RE-OPEN 41 STORES MONDAY
CINCINNATI, OH, December 11 2003 -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced that it has been notified by UFCW Local 400 that a new labor contract covering 3,300 employees in 44 stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky has been ratified by union members, ending a nearly two-month work stoppage.
"We are extremely pleased to have a new contract in place so that our employees can return to work and we can begin serving our customers again," said Pete Williams, President of Kroger's Mid-Atlantic Marketing Area. "With the holiday season in full swing, we have a lot of work ahead of us. We’re looking forward to welcoming back our employees."
Kroger plans to begin recalling workers immediately and has begun scheduling deliveries of fresh product to stores for Friday morning. Twelve fuel centers that had been closed during the work stoppage will re-open Friday. Pharmacies, which had remained open for business during the labor dispute, will return to normal operating hours on Sunday.
Three stores will not be re-opened. Those stores are located in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia; Pomeroy, Ohio; and Gallipolis, Ohio.
“As we said before the work stoppage began, Kroger would re-open as many stores as we believe we can economically operate. Unfortunately, the impact of the strike, combined with the projected cost of restocking, does not make it economically feasible for us to re-open these three stores,” said Mr. Williams.
Employees in those three stores may exercise their seniority rights to transfer to other Kroger stores.
Kroger pharmacies in Pomeroy and Gallipolis will remain open indefinitely until customer prescription files are transferred to other pharmacies.
Under the new contract, Kroger employees will continue to be the highest compensated supermarket workers in West Virginia. Mr. Williams said the agreement also allows Kroger to manage its overall costs.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is one of the nation’s largest retail grocery chains. At the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2003, the Company operated (either directly or through its subsidiaries) 2,530 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 32 states under two dozen banners including Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Smith’s, Fry’s and Fry’s Marketplace, Dillons, QFC and City Market. Kroger also operated (either directly, through its subsidiaries or franchise agreements) 798 convenience stores, 445 fine jewelry stores, 442 supermarket fuel centers and 41 food processing plants. (These store figures include locations affected by ongoing labor disputes.) The Company contributed $106 million last year to local communities and non-profit organizations. For more information about Kroger, please visit our web site at www.kroger.com, where a wide variety of fine jewelry and holiday flowers are available at great prices.
Media: Gary Rhodes
Investor Relations: Carin Chabut
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