The owner of Safway, Empire Co., announced yesterday that it was closing 10 of its Metro Vancouver stores.
What’s more, the news came of the eve of bargaining between the union, UFCW 1518, and Sobeys, for all of its Safeway stores in British Columbia.
Now, the parent company is stating that 5 of these locations may be rebranded as FreschCo stores. The corporation struggled to merge Safeway with Sobey’s after acquired the former brand in 2013.
Major stores that are closing include:
- City Square and Point Grey in Vancouver
- Lougheed Mall and Royal Oak in Burnaby
- Sunwood Square in Coquitlam
- Blundell and Broadmoor in Richmond
- Newton Town Centre and Strawberry Hill in Surrey
- Lougheed Highway in Mission
While details are unconfirmed, the corporation may reopen some of the stores as the discount brand FreschCo. These stores include: Blundell and Broadmoor in Richmond; both Newton Town Centre and Strawberry Hill in Surrey; and the Lougheed Highway location in Mission.
Safeway to FreshCo
While the news is upsetting to many, the change was in the works for a long time. In fact, the company discussed rebranding months ago amid major financial losses.
Back in December, News 1130 reported that, “Shares of Empire Co. Ltd. were down six per cent on Wednesday amid news it’s planning to convert up to a quarter of stores in Western Canada to its discount FreshCo banner as it struggles with industry challenges and increased labour costs.”
Evidently, Safeway has struggled to company in the competitive retail sector of downtown Vancouver. As a result, the chain chose stores it deemed to be “consistently underperforming” for the closures.