Winnipeg shoppers not happy with Sobeys Inc. store closures

Sobeys Inc. announced it is closing 50 stores across Canada, including six in Manitoba.

Sobeys Inc. to close six stores in Manitoba, including three in Winnipeg

John Graham, director of public affairs for Sobeys Inc., on why the company is closing six Manitoba stores, including four Safeway locations, one IGA store and a cash-and-carry outlet in Thompson. 0:58

Sobeys Inc. announced it is closing 50 stores across Canada, including six in Manitoba.

The following stores are all set to close:

  • Winnipeg IGA in the Maples
  • Winnipeg Safeway on Ness Avenue
  • Winnipeg Safeway in Garden City
  • Brandon Safeway location (one of two in the city)
  • Steinbach Safeway location
  • Thompson Cash and Carry

The closures come after Sobeys Inc. acquired Safeway for $5.8 billion dollars last fall, and the news has left some Winnipeggers wondering where they’ll buy groceries and fill their prescriptions.

“With my diabetic medications and everything else, they have been very, very helpful,” said Henry Rymarczuk, who has visited the pharmacy at the Garden City area Safeway for the past 30 years. “Now, to go to a new pharmacy and pharmacist is a concern to me.”

Shopper Mel Brown has the same concerns.

“All my prescriptions are here,” she said. “It’s just a short stop for me to come from Templeton [Avenue] to here, and now that I have to travel somewhere else, I’m not very happy about it.”
Sobeys Inc. is closing six grocery stores in Manitoba, including one IGA and two Safeway locations in Winnipeg. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Sobeys Inc.’s director of public affairs, John Graham, said the stores were chosen based on a number of factors, but money played a part.

“They were constantly underperforming, and they weren’t going to be financially viable going forward,” he said, adding each location is already near another grocery store.

As for the 300 jobs at stake — Graham said Sobeys Inc. is planning to move the staff to other locations.

But United Food and Commercial Workers local president Jeff Traeger worries there won’t be enough jobs.

“Locations like Steinbach where there is only one Safeway store [are] very difficult. Those people would have to bump into stores in Winnipeg, which would mean a 40 minute drive to work every day for a part time job,” Traeger. “We don’t expect a lot of people will do that.”

Graham said specific dates about when the stores will close will come out in the next two months.

So far, the only location with a firm closure date is Thompson’s Cash and Carry, which will close its doors on July 18.

More closing dates are expected to be announced within the next 2 months.