Safeway to close 10 local supermarkets, possibly reopen several as discount brand


LOWER MAINLAND (NEWS 1130) – The owner of Safeway will close 10 Lower Mainland stores.

Empire Co., which also owns Sobeys, has been struggling to integrate Safeway since buying the chain for $5.8 billion in 2013.

It says five Vancouver-area Safeway stores it describes as “underperforming” will be permanently closed — City Square and Point Grey in Vancouver, Lougheed Mall and Royal Oak in Burnaby, and Sunwood Square in Coquitlam.

The other five are Blundell and Broadmoor in Richmond, Newton Town Centre and Strawberry Hills in Surrey, and Mission. The company says those locations “may reopen as FreshCo discount stores, depending on the outcome of negotiations with labour unions.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union says the company last week proposed “massive concessions” on the first day of contract talks, then “walked away, cancelling the rest of the week’s bargaining dates.”

Union local president Ivan Limpright says the closures will directly affect almost 1,000 BC workers.

“Now, some will be displaced and some will lose their jobs, but even the people that are displaced to move into other locations will displace other people and put them out of work.”

“Really, it’s an insult and an outrage. It’s not just business, it’s people’s lives.”

Limpright says Sobeys needs to move into the new millennium.

“Our members built the company, and these guys have just come in and destroyed all the goodwill, and they’ve caused a major problem for everyone.”

He says the union is getting legal advice and considering going to the Labour Relations Board to try to prevent the closures, but no decisions have been made yet.

The company says it is working to arrange transfers to other stores, but an unspecified number of employees will lose their jobs.

The closures are scheduled for May 5, except for City Square which is set to close on July 28.

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