Safeway in Parkland Mall closing

The company that owns the Sobeys and Canada Safeway brands is purging its grocery network of “underperforming” stores, with the Safeway in Red Deer’s Parkland Mall among the casualties.

The company that owns the Sobeys and Canada Safeway brands is purging its grocery network of “underperforming” stores, with the Safeway in Red Deer’s Parkland Mall among the casualties.

Empire Company Ltd. announced on Thursday that it’s closing approximately 50 stores, with the majority of these in Western Canada. Keri Scobie, communications manager for Sobeys West, subsequently confirmed that the Parkland Mall Safeway is one of 15 Safeway and Sobeys stores in Alberta that are on the list.

Neither the Safeway store at 4408 Gaetz Ave. in Red Deer nor any of the Sobeys stores in Central Alberta are slated to close.

Scobie said Empire made its decisions on the basis of sales performance.

“They’re difficult decisions to make but when you look at your network and you want to optimize it and you want to grow and move forward, sometimes you have to make these tough decisions. At the end of the day, these stores all sort of fell into that category of underperforming and no longer financially viable.”

Scobie said staff at the affected stores were told about the closures on Wednesday. In most cases, no dates were given.

“We’ve committed to employees and our customers that in the next six to eight weeks we’ll be back to them with timelines, a date and sort of next steps forward.”

Scobie did confirm that the Parkland Mall Safeway will not close before fall.

Douglas O’Halloran, president of United Food & Commercial Workers Union local that represents Safeway employees in Alberta, said staff at the affected stores were in shock. The uncertain timelines for the closures made the situation even worse, he added.

“It just seems to add extra stress, extra turmoil to the situation.”

O’Halloran said employees at the Parkland Mall Safeway might have the right to bump less senior workers at the other Red Deer store.

“Depending upon your seniority, you may be able to bump into another store if you have the ability and the skills to do the job there.”

That leaves junior employees at both stores in a precarious position, he acknowledged.

“The chances of surviving are pretty slim.”

O’Halloran wasn’t sure of the staff count at the Parkland Mall Safeway, and Scobie said her company’s policy is not to disclose such information.

“In this instance, the net impact is really difficult to discuss because ideally we want to move people to positions in other stores,” she pointed out.

But transfers to Sobeys stores is not an option, said Scobie.

“At this point we still really do operate as separate companies.”

Empire acquired Canada Safeway a year ago in a $5.8-billion deal that included more than 200 Safeway stores and other properties. The Nova Scotia-based grocery giant subsequently sold 29 Safeway and Sobeys stores, partly in compliance with a directive from the Canadian Competition Bureau.

Parkland Mall general manager Dan Hachey said Thursday’s announcement was sad news, especially for Safeway employees at the shopping centre.

“Many of their staff have been here for a career.”

But Hachey downplayed the impact of the closure on Parkland Mall.

“This is prime retail space that they’re vacating, so long-term it’s not that terrible for us.”

In fact, he said, mall officials considered replacement tenants for Safeway after the Empire purchase, fearing that the Competition Bureau wouldn’t allow Empire to keep the store.

“We were already out testing the water for other larger format retailers that would look at the Safeway space and there was serious interest at that time.

“We’re confident, with that Gaetz-facing retail, that we’ll be able to make some announcements within the coming months.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Fire investigators comb through industrial fire wreckage looking for answers

Industrial building in north Red Deer was completely gutted in Wednesday morning fire

Time for a central Albertan in cabinet, says chamber of commerce

Central Alberta had no cabinet ministers in last government

Trump Russia probe finally delivers some answers

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some… Continue reading

Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline extended

OTTAWA — The federal government is delaying a decision on the Trans… Continue reading

WATCH video of Innisfail resident creating the world’s biggest caricature

Watch as Innisfail resident Dean Foster creates the world’s biggest caricature of… Continue reading

Lower price discounts to boost Q1 oil profits but uncertainty hangs over sector

CALGARY — Lower discounts on western Canadian oil prices have swollen producer… Continue reading

Local Sports: Hard training pays off for Red Deer runner Jared Howse

Jared Howse understands success doesn’t come easily. The 17-year-old has put together… Continue reading

CRA’s automatic benefit registrations give retirees reason to file on time

TORONTO — This is the time of year when procrastinators begin to… Continue reading

Study: Genetic test predicts middle-aged obesity risk

NEW YORK — Can a genetic test identify newborns at risk of… Continue reading

Downtown Red Deer Co-op Plaza Food store closing

Central Alberta Co-op is closing its downtown Red Deer Plaza food store… Continue reading

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Most Read