(March 10, 4:25 p.m.) Safeway Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., has fired part of its administrative staff to help boost profits as a down economy erodes the grocer’s sales growth.

Safeway announced the layoffs in late February as part of a program to aggressively trim expenses to hit 2008 earnings targets.

Safeway has not released figures regarding the layoffs.

With about 200,000 workers and 1,743 stores, Safeway is the second largest grocer in the U.S.