Empire increasing low cost grocery banner FreshCo in Western Canada, Ontario

STELLARTON, NS – Empire Co. Ltd. expands its discount grocery banner FreshCo in western Canada and Ontario and plans to rebuild seven of its Safeway stores starting this fall.

The company states that six of the renovations will be in Alberta and one in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Mike Venton, general manager of Empire’s discount division, says the FreshCo network has grown 23 percent since the company opened its first discount store in western Canada two years ago.

Empire says it will work with the unions that represent affected employees and give them the opportunity to work in the new FreshCo locations or in other stores within the network.

In 2017, the Stellarton, NS-based company announced a five-year plan to convert 25 percent of its full-service locations in Safeway and Sobeys to FreshCo stores.

37 FreshCo locations have currently been confirmed in western Canada, according to Empire.

According to the grocery chain, the cost of closing and converting its full-service stores into discount stores is approximately $ 11.7 million before tax, which will be charged to earnings in the third quarter of fiscal 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 27, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX: EMP.A)