No more KFC in Quebec City, after sudden closure of city's last outlet
Employees of Wilfrid-Hamel Boulevard location learned Sunday they were out of a job
The last Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Quebec City closed its doors for good Sunday.
The abrupt closure came as a surprise to the 20 employees of the Wilfrid-Hamel Boulevard location who are now out of a job, said Guy Gendron, the president of Local 9400 of the Syndicat des Metallos, the union that represents the KFC workers.
"It's really a savage closure — without notice and during the holidays, between the tourtière and the turkey," said Gendron. "Management did not even deign to warn the union and the workers."
When KFC outlets closed in the past, Gendron said, employees were relocated to other operations in the region, but no such proposal was made this time around.
There used to be 14 KFC outlets in the Quebec City region, but several closed last fall.
One of the workers who was dismissed had 34 years' seniority, Gendron said.
Gendron says he is confident the staff will find new jobs, as there is a critical shortage of restaurant workers in Quebec's capital.
The union will ensure laid-off employees receive severance pay and other amounts due, said Gendron.
In a joint statement issued Monday afternoon, KFC Canada and Olympus Food, which operates KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut in Quebec, said the closures are part of a broader strategy to modernize KFC's brand.
"The Ministry of Labour, as well as union representatives, were notified of this restaurant closure to ensure compliance with all Provincial regulations and legal requirements," said Barbara Allen, human resources director at Olympus Food.
"These closures are in no way a reflection of the dedication and contributions of our valued team members," said Jamie Hood, KFC Canada's director of development.
The statement said the franchise will be opening 10 to 15 restaurants across the province in the next several years.
Switch to healthier options?
Yan Cimon, who teaches business strategy at the faculty of business administration at Université Laval in Quebec City said he is not surprised by the way in which the workers were laid off.
"It's an industry that tends to stick to the most cost-effective solutions when managing downsizing operations," Cimon said.
"Quebec City consumers like fried chicken but they have a lot of offers. If you look at the demographics in the area as well people are switching toward more healthy alternatives," Cimon said.
Now that the KFC on Wilfrid-Hamel is closed, those hankering for a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken can still satisfy their craving, but they'll have to venture to the outskirts of the greater Quebec City region to do so.
In a message on Facebook, André Pomerleau, who owns three KFC franchises in Donnacona, Montmagny and Sainte-Marie, reassured his 75 workers that his locations are doing well — and he has no plans of closing any of them in 2020.
With files from Brian Lapuz, Radio Canada's Alain Rochefort, Hadi Hassin, and La Presse Canadienne