Photo courtesy of Haggen Food & Pharmacy

Photo courtesy of Haggen Food & Pharmacy

Supermarket operator Haggen Food & Pharmacy, which recently entered the San Diego County region with 25 locations, has announced an unspecified number of layoffs underway at its Southern California stores. Various media reports said between 700 and 800 jobs are being shed.

A company statement said job cuts will vary by individual location, as Haggen trims its workforce at stores across Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. The Northwest grocery retailer entered those markets just this year and is so far struggling to establish its brand in a competitive marketplace.

“To ensure we’re operating as efficiently as possible, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily cut back on staffing at our stores, with specific reductions varying by store,” Haggen Southwest CEO Bill Shaner said in the statement. “We value the contributions these employees have made and are committed to treating all employees respectfully and professionally through this transition.”

Bellingham, Wash.-based Haggen acquired a total of 146 former Albertsons, Safeway and Safeway-owned Vons stores earlier this year, including 83 in California, for an undisclosed price. The stores were divested by Albertsons and Safeway as a government-ordered condition for the recent merger of the two chains.

Haggen has since invested about $100 million in converting and reopening the stores in three states, and also established a Pacific Southwest regional office in Irvine.

Before the first of its local stores opened in May, Shaner told San Diego Business Journal in January that Haggen was retaining approximately 2,000 workers in San Diego County who were previously employed by Albertsons and Vons.

The layoffs come as Haggen was recently sued by Albertsons, which claims Haggen owes it more than $41 million for inventory that changed hands at 38 former Albertsons locations that Haggen acquired. Haggen is disputing the claim.