US grocery retailer Safeway has announced it is to close 12 Chicago-area stores in its Dominick’s supermarket chain on 13 March 2004.

Dominick’s president Randall Onstead said that closing the underperforming stores would make Dominick’s “healthier” and would allow the chain to focus on growing the business and introducing new products and services.

Safeway said it is to record a $50m to $55m pre-tax charge for lease exit costs in its first quarter 2004 financial results related to these store closures. However, the company also said the elimination of operating losses from the closed stores will benefit earnings immediately.