Pictured above: Food City President and CEO Steve Smith
In a wide-ranging virtual press conference, Food City President and CEO Steve Smith announced Tuesday his company has joined a long list of grocery retailers offering increases in compensation for employees. “We are in the process of implementing a bonus payment system totaling around $3 million to reward our associates for their hard work and unprecedented efforts during this unparalleled time,” Smith said. Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Whole Foods and others have announced the implementation of bonus plans or $2/hour raises in the last week.
The news comes a week after Food City announced plans to hire 2,500 new employees, about half of whom have been on-boarded in the last few days. Smith also asked that consumers be understanding that everyone, from new employees to the most experienced, will be dealing with difficult circumstances as best they can. “Please have patience with our associates that are on the front line,” Smith said. “That’s probably the most important thing I’d ask for.”
“Over the last few days, we have done many things to help alleviate some of the bottlenecks in our supply chain,” Smith said. “We, like other retailers, had some people shortages over this past week. We’ve hired 76 additional associates at our Food City distribution center and shifted more than 140 qualified retail associates to distribution center to assist in getting properties to our stores. We’re still looking to hire another 30 associates in the coming days in our distribution center.”
In acknowledging the shortages, Smith said they are likely to continue for weeks or even months. “I don’t know exactly what gaps and what challenges there will be, but I can tell you there will. We think it’s going to get better but there will be some pumps along the way.”
Seeking to quell consumer fears over shortages of items from toilet paper to tarragon, Smith said food manufacturers and retailers are both working to address the problems. “To help alleviate some of the shortages, (manufacturers are) reducing the number of items that they are producing and limiting varieties and flavors in order to focus their efforts on increasing the productivity and production of their core items. Due to this extreme high demand, we have limited the number of high demand items in our stores that can be purchased at a given time, to ensure that all of our customers have an opportunity to purchase what they need.”
“I can personally guarantee you our stores will remain open seven days a week,” Smith said.