Sobeys to close this fall

Justin Crann
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The doors to Moose Jaw's Sobeys store will close for the last time on Sept. 25.

Sobeys Moose Jaw will shutter its doors on Sept. 25. The closure will impact approximately 65 employees.

That is when the national grocery chain's Friendly City location will shutter its doors alongside 49 other outfits across the country — 60 per cent of which are situated in Western Canada.

"Really, it's part of our regular business process … on a regular basis, we evaluate our operations, store network and performance and determine if we're at where we need to be," said Keri Scobie, a spokesperson for the company. 

"When we looked across the network, these stores were under-performing … the decision was made to close them."

Scobie would not confirm the number of employees who will be impacted by the closure of the location.

Norm Neault, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1400 — which represents employees of the Sobeys stores in both Moose Jaw and Prince Albert — said approximately 65 employees will lose their jobs when the Friendly City location closes. 

An additional 70 employees will be left out of work in Prince Albert.

"They've been coming across with a pretty big scythe," said Neault. "They're looking at the stores that were less profitable, and it's hard to imagine (these ones were)."

Neault said the closures were handled appropriately, and that Sobeys gave its employees 90 days notice.

According to him, the announcement was made on Wednesday afternoon.

But that doesn't make the news any easier for him to swallow.

"Some of these stores have been around for a dozen or so years, and so some have very good, loyal employees," said Neault. "I think it would be very shocking … many of the workers were shaken, as were their families.

"(That's) not to mention the profound effect it's going to have on the communities of Prince Albert and Moose Jaw," he added. 

Neault also suggested that the closures may be related to the company's recent acquisition of Safeway Canada.

"I guess the good news about Sobeys buying Safeway isn't very good news for the employees of Sobeys," he said.

However, Scobie denied that was the case.

"Things are regularly under review and Safeway, before we acquired them, would have the same process in place. We have a lot of markets where we have a Sobeys and a Safeway in very close proximity and both thrive," she said. "That wasn't part of this decision. We made it on an individual store basis."

She reiterated that the decision was "difficult," but that Sobeys "appreciate the community of Moose Jaw and the patronage and service we've had there over the years."

With files from Tyler Clarke, Prince Albert Daily Herald.

Find Justin Crann on Twitter.

Organizations: Sobeys, Prince Albert, Safeway Canada United Food Daily Herald

Geographic location: Friendly, Moose Jaw, Western Canada

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