Co-op transforming 4 Safeway stores in Winnipeg

Four Safeway stores in Winnipeg are getting extreme supermarket makeovers in the next couple weeks, with crews transforming them into Co-op stores within just 48 hours.
Canada Safeway closed its locations on north Main Street and Vermillion Road earlier this week. They are now being rebranded as Red River Co-ops. (Daryl Oshanek)

Four Safeway stores in Winnipeg are getting extreme supermarket makeovers in the next couple weeks, with crews transforming them into Co-op stores within just 48 hours.

Canada Safeway closed its locations at 1441 Main St. (at Polson Avenue) and at 77 Vermillion Rd. (Southdale Centre) earlier this week, and they are now being rebranded as Red River Co-ops.

"The store has been totally repainted on the inside. We've got it all rebranded. You'll see the Co-op labelled products on our shelves," Red River Co-op general manager Doug Wiebe told CBC News on Tuesday.

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. purchased four Canada Safeway locations in Winnipeg earlier this year, including one on Main Street (pictured). (Daryl Oshanek)
"The staff are the same, so it's going to be the same friendly faces that they see on a regular basis."

The Main Street store is set to reopen as a Co-op on Wednesday, and the Vermillion Road location will reopen on Thursday.

"There's not a lot of room for error, so we're moving fairly quickly," Wiebe said.

"We won't have everything 100 per cent done in terms of painting and decor and that kind of stuff, but we'll have the vast majority of it done and up and ready to roll."

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) bought the two stores earlier this year, along with Safeway locations at Grant Park Shopping Centre and St. Vital Shopping Centre.

The deal came after Sobeys Canada was required to sell 23 stores across Canada as part of an agreement with the federal Competition Bureau after its purchase of Canada Safeway last year.

The Grant Park and St. Vital Safeway stores — as well as the gas bar at the St. Vital location — are expected to reopen as Co-ops late next week.

Co-op donates dairy to food bank

Winnipeg Harvest put out an appeal earlier this month for donations and Red River Co-op came through.

Co-op is donating remaining Safeway brand name dairy products to the food bank.

Kate Brenner, director of development with Winnipeg Harvest, said the donation of milk, cheese, and yogurt comes at a great time.

“These are all commodities that are very important and hard for us to get,” she said. “Although we have a longstanding relationship with the Co-op stores, the anomaly is that this is going to be a large amount that we’ll receive at a time when we really need it.”

Brenner said despite the items being perishable, Winnipeg Harvest will unload the goods on food bank users in a hurry, and workers are very diligent about checking expiry dates.

Although it’s rare for Winnipeg Harvest to receive such a large quantity of dairy products, they have a priority system in place to get the food to those most in need.

“We make sure that families with children under 12 receive it first, pregnant women as well and if we have more product we go broader with it. This will certainly help us with a broader solution.”

They’re picking goods up over the next few days.