Red Deer will officially become a one-Safeway town on Dec. 6.
That’s the day the Safeway store in Parkland Mall will cease operations, leaving only the Port O’ Call Safeway at 4408 Gaetz Ave. to represent the grocery brand in the city.
Empire Company Ltd. — which owns Sobeys Inc. — acquired Canada Safeway in June 2013 as part of a $5.8-billion deal that included more than 200 stores. Empire later sold 29 Safeway and Sobeys stores, and on June 26 of this year announced that it would close about 50 additional stores. Fifteen of these were in Alberta, including four Safeway stores, among them the Parkland Mall Safeway.
Betty Kellsey, Safeway’s public affairs manager, said it will be business as usual at the store until Dec. 6. However, prescriptions at its pharmacy are already being transferred to the Port O’ Call Safeway.
“That process is well underway and we are in an expansion mode at the Port O’ Call Safeway pharmacy to accommodate the increase in prescriptions.”
She added that pharmacy customers are being notified of the change.
There are about 80 full- and part-time workers at the Parkland Safeway, said Kellsey. Some will have the opportunity to transfer to the other store.
“Our HR team has been meeting with the employees over the past several weeks to review that process, and of course we are in conversation with the appropriate unions to also determine the next steps for the employees.”
Douglas O’Halloran, president of United Food & Commercial Workers Union local that represents Safeway employees in Alberta, said previously that staff at the Parkland Mall Safeway might be able to bump less senior workers at the Port O’ Call Safeway.
“There’s language within the collective agreement that relates specifically to store closures and how that will impact the employees,” said Kellsey.
“It’s a very complicated process.”
Parkland Mall general manager Dan Hachey is optimistic that Safeway’s premises will not be vacant for long.
“There is a serious discussion going on with a retailer for that space,” he said, confirming only that the prospective tenant is a national retailer.
If a deal is finalized, interior renovations and development of a new exterior facade would be necessary, said Hachey. He’s optimistic this could be completed in time for a spring or summer opening.
Parkland Mall belongs to Morguard REIT, which in turn is owned by Morguard Corp.