Fresh from closing 10 Safeway stores in B.C. last year, the Nova Scotia-based grocer Sobeys has started to roll out FreshCo-branded grocery stores in the Lower Mainland, with its first FreshCo store in Western Canada opening in Mission on April 24 – a store that employs more than 100 people.
Sobeys already operates about 95 stores in Ontario under the low-cost grocery-store banner FreshCo, and it plans to operate 12 additional FreshCo stores in the four western provinces by the end of 2019.
That includes two stores opening in Winnipeg next week and then, in late May, stores at Richmond’s Blundell and Broadmoor shopping centres.
Both of those Richmond stores had been Safeway stores but Sobeys closed those stores last summer following uncertainty related to workers’ collective agreements.
In June, Sobeys plans to open two stores in Surrey – at Newton Town Centre and in the Strawberry Hill area. Both of those stores will be in locations where there were also Safeway stores until last year.
Sobeys told Business in Vancouver in an email that the opening dates for FreshCo stores in Aldergrove, downtown Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Ladner and Abbotsford “will be announced in the coming months.”
Sobeys did not reveal the location of its planned twelfth Western Canadian FreshCo store.
Sobeys, which is a subsidiary of Empire Co. Ltd. (TSX:EMP.A), operates more than 1,500 grocery stores across Canada under banners such as Sobeys, Farm Boy, IGA, Thrifty Foods and Safeway.
Canada’s largest grocer is Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L), which noted in its 2018 annual report that was released in February, that it had 550 corporate stores and 535 franchised stores as well as 1,337 associate-owned drug stores. Loblaw has more than a dozen brands including Loblaws, Loblaws CityMarket, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore and T&T Supermarket.
The Jim Pattison Group has 159 Save-On-Foods stores, including 110 in B.C., as well as 22 Buy-Low Foods stores, 11 Choices Markets stores, 15 Nesters Market stores as well as two grocery stores branded Meinhardt.