Powell River’s Safeway store will be closing in November of this year and reopening in the spring of 2020 rebranded as a FreshCo store.
According to a news release from Empire Company Ltd, Safeway’s owner, the move is part of its discount format expansion into Western Canada. The company is expanding FreshCo into the west by converting approximately 25 per cent of its underperforming Safeway and Sobeys locations over a five-year period.
Powell River Safeway manager Steve Wadsworth was contacted and indicated that he could not provide a comment with regard to the closure and reopening of the local store.
Jacquelin Weatherbee, director of external communications for Sobeys Inc, said Powell River Safeway unionized employees have been offered three options. She said employees can bump to a neighbouring Safeway store; voluntary severance options are provided; or they can accept voluntary severance and sign on to work at the new FreshCo, under the terms of the new FreshCo collective agreement, which, according to Weatherbee, may be different from the Safeway collective agreement.
Safeway pharmacy manager Joe Geneau said through the closure of the Safeway store, the pharmacy will continue to remain open with full service.
Michael Medline, president and CEO, Empire Company Ltd, said western Canada is responding extremely well to the smaller box discount format.
“We’ve been hyper-focused on selecting the right locations for FreshCo stores and are converting poorly performing Safeway and Sobeys stores,” he added. “Opening FreshCo stores in these locations is allowing us to not only leverage existing real estate within our network, but also win market share we simply couldn’t compete for in the past.”
General manager Mike Venton said customer response to the company’s first five FreshCo locations in BC and Manitoba has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Discount is the fastest growing retail segment and we’re now participating in a meaningful way in Western Canada, providing customers with more choice and market-leading low prices,” he added. “Customers have been very excited about our international product offering and easy-to-shop store format and we’re ready to continue building on our progress in BC and Winnipeg.”
The Powell River Safeway store will be closing on November 23.