Sobeys Inc. confirmed yesterday the closure of the Safeway location in Shoppers Mall, but the location will survive through the summer.
Empire Co. Ltd., Sobeys’ parent company, released its annual financial results Thursday, confirming information released to the Brandon Sun by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832 this week.
The Brandon location is one of about 50 grocery stores to close across the country and its closure date will be determined in six to eight weeks.
The store has been open since 1981 and is one of the 50 “consistently underperforming” stores, according to the fiscal report.
“Over the last several months, a comprehensive evaluation of the store network has taken place across Canada,” said John Graham, public affairs director for Sobeys. “As a result of this review, a decision has been made to close approximately 50 stores across Canada, including the Shoppers Mall Brandon store.”
The company employs about 50 people at the Shoppers Mall location and unionized workers have “bumping rights,” meaning they may have the chance to move to Safeway’s Corral Centre store.
Graham said the company is also reviewing the collective agreement to see if workers can hop over to the Sobeys brand to find work, since the two banners still operate independently of one another.
“At this stage, we’re still working through that process,” he said. “Certainly we’re working with the union regarding all collective agreement language that applies to store closures.”
This closure comes one year after Sobeys acquired Safeway Canada and its 213 outlets for $5.8 billion.
According to the UFCW, more than 300 UFCW 832 members in Manitoba will be affected.
“This is the downside of business mergers and acquisitions. When our members heard of the sale of Safeway to Sobeys last year, many have been wondering when this day would come. While the news is very unfortunate, I would have to say it wasn’t unexpected,” stated UFCW Local 832 president Jeff Traeger in a press release.
“We will do everything we can to keep our members informed and to ensure their rights under the agreement are honoured through the transition.”
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 27, 2014