The Safeway location in Shoppers Mall will be one of several stores to be shuttered by parent company Sobeys West Inc., the union says.
According to Jeff Traeger, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local No. 832, members were told of the closure yesterday but no official announcement has been made by the company. Calls to Sobeys representatives Wednesday evening were not returned.
The location is one of at least five grocery stores in Manitoba to close over the next few months, including Safeways and an IGA in Winnipeg, in the wake of Safeway’s multibillion-dollar sale to Sobeys one year ago.
The UFCW says 300 members were notified Wednesday their stores would close, likely in the fall. The move will affect at least 300 workers, though many will have bumping rights into other unionized stores that are short staffed. Traeger said the Shoppers Mall location employs 49 union members.
The closures are expected to be officially announced today as part of the release of the company’s quarterly financial results. More local Sobeys and IGA stores that aren’t unionized could also be on the closure list, which could top 70 stores across the country.
The closures are part of a remarkable round of restructuring in the grocery market across Canada that has seen stores and warehouses mothballed or sold to other retailers such as Co-op.
The turmoil began a year ago when Sobeys acquired Safeway Canada and its 213 outlets for $5.8 billion and reached a deal with the Competition Bureau to sell some stores in Western Canada to avoid neighbourhood monopolies.
There is no firm date when the Shoppers Mall location will close down, though Traeger said members were told a decision will be made in six to eight weeks.
"If they’re going to make major announcement of store closures in Manitoba, I would’ve hoped they would have rolled that out formally with a press conference or a press release of some kind," Traeger said. "It’s surprising to me that we’re hearing it from our membership rather than hearing it from the company."
» Brandon Sun, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press