Supervalu Inc. plans to close 60 stores — many in southern California — because of a “sense of urgency” to reduce costs.

Chief executive officer Wayne Sales said in a news release the decision by the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based chain reflects the company’s commitment to “improve shareholder value.” Sales, who is also Supervalu’s chairman of the board, has been at the helm since July when the company dismissed former CEO Craig Herkert.

The change at the top came with reports that first quarter profits for Supervalu’s 2013 fiscal year fell 45%. The Wall Street Journal reported then that corporate leaders were considering selling all or part of the company.

Supervalu closing stores to help shareholdersOf the stores to be closed, 27 are Albertsons supermarkets, including 19 in Southern California and eight in the intermountain West region. Four Acme stores will be closed and 22 Save-A-Lot stores are scheduled to be shuttered.

One previously announced Jewel-Osco store closure is also included in the Sept. 5 news release. Eight more stores will be closed by the end of Supervalu’s fiscal year in February 2013. The release did not include other details about those stores.

Supervalu closing stores to help shareholdersMike Siemienas, Supervalu spokesman, said Sept. 6 the company currently has about 248 stores in Southern California and Nevada. The majority of the closures are planned before Dec. 1, the end of Supervalu’s third quarter for FY2013.

Supervalu expects to generate $80 million to $90 million in cash during the next three years “from monetizing owned real estate, eliminating cash operating losses, and selling departmental assets,” according to the release. Supervalu owns the real estate for about a third of the stores slated for closure.

The company has about 4,400 stores in the U.S. and about 130,000 employees, according to its website.