SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Delhaize America has announced a restructuring plan that includes laying off 500 employees, including more than 100 middle and senior management members at Hannaford Brothers' headquarters in Scarborough.
Hannaford Brothers, which was founded on Portland's waterfront back in 1883, was purchased by Delhaize in 2000.
Mike Norton, a spokesman for Hannaford, says the company will be laying off 350 people in their Maine and North Carolina operations centers, though he could not be specific as to exactly how many people will be laid off at either location.
He says it was a difficult decision for the company to make, but had to be done to allow the company to become more efficient in its management. He says employees are being offered severance packages and the company will help them find new jobs.
"We didn't know exactly what it was going to be, we had a feeling it was going to be big," stated Donald Tracy, an IT worker at Hannaford who was laid off after several years working for the company.
Tracy says employees were notified as they started arriving for work, and even though they thought cuts were coming, he was shocked by the scope and depth of the cuts.
He says the hardest part of losing his job was knowing so many of the people he worked with were suffering the same fate.
"It is a big family. I know everybody is local, we all shop at the store. It is very emotional. It is very hard making eye contact with people today, just because the hardest part is seeing the pain on their face," he explained. "Jobs come and go , but you could see it on people's faces how deep it hurts."
Hannaford is one of the largest employers in the town of Scarborough, with more than 1,000 employees which account for seven percent of the town's total employment base, according to Karen Martin, assistant director of the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation.
"These are important, well paid jobs," said Martin. "They will effect the services, the restaurants, all the people who do business with the employees."
She says while they are not involved in job placement, she'd love to hear from employees who were laid off with ideas on ways to bring more business to the community or even start-up ideas that they could help get off the ground.
Martin says they are concerned about the human impact of these cuts, which will have an impact on the region, not just her community, noting the company has been very generous with time and money for a wide variety of charitable causes, not just a good employer.