Delhaize closing dozens of stores in Europe and U.S., including 4 Food Lion supermarkets in metro Savannah

There’s a big international story here.

From Bloomberg’s Delhaize to Cut 5,000 Jobs as Food Lion Owner Shuts Stores in U.S., Europe:

Delhaize Group SA (DELB), the owner of Food Lion supermarkets, plans to cut about 5,000 positions and expects a 2.4 percent drop in revenue as it closes stores in the U.S. and Europe.[. . .]

The food retailer will close 113 Food Lion, seven Bloom and six Bottom Dollar Food locations in the U.S., it said. The remaining 42 Bloom shops as well as 22 Bottom Dollar Food stores will be turned into Food Lion outlets.

Twenty stores in southeastern Europe will also be closed. Delhaize gets most of its revenue in the U.S., where it got 68 percent of its total 2010 sales of 20.9 billion euros, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

And there’s also a big local story for Savannah — and obviously similar local stories throughout the southeast U.S. From the Savannah Morning News’ Food Lion to close four local stores:

Among the stores affected are two of the company’s newest and most bally-hooed local stores: The market at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Gwinnett Street that opened last March and the Southbridge location that opened in 2009.

The Food Lion in the Eisenhower Square shopping center and another store in Rincon were also on the closure list, which included 113 stores in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia.

[UPDATE: You can see the full list of Delhaize’s American closings here.]

When I wrote about the new downtown Food Lion last April, I called it a “welcome addition” but noted:

I live more or less equidistant from Kroger and the new Food Lion. Will the new store change my shopping habits or those of others who have shopped at Kroger for years?

Food Lion closes at 10 p.m. each night, while Kroger is open until midnight and frequently has a steady stream of late shoppers buying small numbers of items. Since the recent revamping of the interior, I’d even say the 16-year-old Kroger offers better aesthetics than the new Food Lion.

I literally haven’t been back to Food Lion since then. I know there were some in the downtown community who hoped that a better overall grocery than Food Lion would be attracted to MLK and Gwinnett — so maybe now we’ll see if that can happen now.

Savannah faces a big handicap in any such recruitment efforts, however.

Since the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority has been dramatically defunded, there will be less energy and possibly fewer incentives put into recruitment.

And the city’s decision not to put the new SPLOST-funded cultural arts center at MLK and Hall Street raises serious questions about the city’s commitment to that portion of the corridor.

At this point, I have no idea how easy or possible it will be to recruit new grocers or other suitable uses to the other locations being closed.

The job losses obviously hurt here. So will the lack of easy access that these stores offered to nearby residents. So will the presence of big empty buildings, which present an economic drag to nearby stores.