Brookshire Bros. announces corporate layoffs

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin-based Brookshire Brothers announced Friday it is reducing its corporate staff by 47 people.

In making the announcement, the employee-owned grocery chain said, "Many companies have been required to look at what they do well and where they can improve.  This move is painful for all of us, but it will help us be more competitive in the long run."

According to company spokesperson Sally Alvis, the company has been examining its corporate structure for months to evaluate its operations from top to bottom, from the checker to the CEO.  "Brookshire Bros. brought in a consulting company to examine every aspect of the operation.  They then did an internal evaluation of operations based on the consultant's recommendation."

When asked if this move had anything to do with increased competition within the market, namely the new 43,000 square foot store opened by H-E-B, Alvis said no.  "This decision is not a market place decision, rather it's a reflection of what's happening on the national scale."

Alvis said the consultant's study revealed the 72-store chain and its 30 Polk Pick It Up convenience stores could increase their efficiency by consolidating some positions and outsourcing others.  Based on the results of the company review and further study, 47 positions have been eliminated.

Corporate executives met with managers Thursday night.  Managers delivered the news to the affected employees Friday morning.  Alvis said a list of those positions was not immediately available.

Each of the employees affected has been offered a severance package.  Details of the package are confidential.  The layoffs are effective immediately.

"If they're vested in the company, they are stockholders and can carry that stock," Alvis said.

According to the company's website as the three Brookshire brothers reached retirement, a transfer of ownership was made. A complicated ESOP or Employee Stock Ownership Plan was developed permitting the family to sell the business to company employees. This decision ushered an era of ownership that has since expanded to 100% employee ownership.

The first Brookshire Brothers store opened on September 21, 1921. It was started by two brothers, Austin and Tom Brookshire. The building occupied by the first Brookshire Brothers food store was located near the Angelina County courthouse square.

"The changes won't affect day to day operations.  The reduction was restricted to the three corporate properties which employee about 549 people, of those, 47 positions have been eliminated," Alvis said.

No other layoffs are expected at this time.  "Brookshire Brothers remains a 100% employee-owned company with 5900 people in two states (Texas and Louisiana).  These changes will enable Brookshire Brothers to emerge as a stronger company," Alvis said.  The changes will increase the company's competitiveness and deal with the challenges of a tough economy.

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