British Columbia

10 Safeway stores to close in B.C.'s Lower Mainland

Ten Safeway stores are slated for closure in B.C.'s Lower Mainland due to falling sales and changing customer demand, says owner.

Parent company Sobey's says 5 may reopen under discount FreshCo brand

Ten Safeway stores in B.C.'s Lower Mainland have been slated for closure later this year, though five may reopen under different branding. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

Ten Safeway supermarkets are slated for closure in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

Safeway's parent company, Sobey's, said the closures are due to falling sales and changing customer demand.

"It's no secret that many of our stores in British Columbia have been struggling for the last few years," said Jacqueline Corrado, director of external communications at Sobey's.

Sobey's confirmed the permanent closures of its Safeway locations at: City Square and Point Grey in Vancouver; Lougheed Mall and Royal Oak in Burnaby; and Sunwood Square in Coquitlam.

The company says five other locations being closed may eventually reopen under its discount brand, FreshCo. Those locations are: Blundell and Broadmoor in Richmond; both Newton Town Centre and Strawberry Hill in Surrey; and the Lougheed Highway location in Mission.

The stores will close on May 5 except for the City Square location, which will close on July 28. Sobey's says possible reopening dates for the five will be confirmed at a later date.

Union sees closures as threat

Ivan Limpright, president of UFCW 1518, the union that represents Safeway's workers, says he doesn't believe the closures are a business decision, but rather a tactic in advance of upcoming negotiations between Sobey's and the union.

"On the eve of our negotiations, the company is trying to scare our members with store closures," Limpright said.

"This whole situation is an insult to our members, and it's an outrage."

Limpright said as many as 1,000 workers could be affected by the closures, including employees who could be transferred to other stores rather than being laid off.

In a statement, Sobey's said it's looking forward to the upcoming negotiations with UFCW 1518.

"We agree with the union that it's time to stop the games and start respectful negotiations," the statement reads.