VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The company that owns Safeway will begin to open some of its closed locations under a new name.
FreshCo will begin to open stores in the province this spring, offering its customers a discount supermarket experience.
All this is part of a restructuring effort by Empire Co, the owner of Sobeys and its subsidiaries, FreshCo and Safeway. The company has been fighting since it bought Safeway in 2013.
Five FreshCo stores will open in spring. Two will be in Richmond, two to Surrey and one to Mission.
All of them fill the old locations of Safeway, which closed many of its stores in the lower part of the summer of 2018.
Five additional Safeway locations will be closed in May for renovations, which could take up to five months. It will all open again as FreshCos at a later date.
Empire says it is taking steps to ensure continuity in its pharmacy departments and to comply with the collective agreements of employee unions.
But workers who are currently working in Safeway stores closed, they could lose their jobs with the change, says the union.
Kate Milberry of the local UFCW 1518 says that this is a worry and disappointment.
"It is disappointing that these good, family, solidarity and salary jobs in Safeway will not be protected," says Milberry.
However, note that workers have some options, although they can not be recruited to work at FreshCo. They can move to another branch of Safeway, or pay compensation.
"Our members are also eligible for compensation of up to $ 65,000, depending on their age," he says. "We know that some of our members take this option."
She says that even with these options, it is a sad day for Safeway workers.
"We believe that all workers deserve a living wage," he says. "We believe that all workers deserve job security and we know that our members are experts in the food industry."
These will be the first locations of FreshCo anywhere in British Columbia.