It's business as usual, at least for now, according to the union that represents thousands of Safeway and Sobeys employees in Manitoba.

Sobeys' parent company, Empire Company Limited, announced Wednesday it is buying more than 200 Safeway stores in Western Canada for $5.8 billion.

Both Sobeys and Safeway have thousands of unionized employees in Manitoba. Sobeys has not said whether layoffs could be expected as a result of the purchase.

United Food and Commerical Workers union spokesperson Paul Meinema said he doesn't know if the merger will result in job losses or store closures in the province.

"At this point we don't know. I mean, it's always a worry regardless if there is a merger or not," he said.

"In the fight for competition that the retail industry experiences in Canada, it's always a concern if a store closes or not."

Along with 213 Safeway grocery stores — more than 60 per cent of which are in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg — Sobeys will also acquire:

  • 199 in-store pharmacies.
  • 62 gas stations.
  • 10 liquor stores.
  • 4 primary distribution centres and a related wholesale business.
  • 12 manufacturing facilities.

The Nova Scotia-based Sobeys will get $1.8 billion worth of real estate in the deal.

It has not yet decided whether it will brand the new network of stores under the Safeway or Sobeys banner or keep the two brands independent.