FreshCo to replace enclosed Safeway sites in parts of B.C.



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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The company that owns Safeway will begin opening some of its enclosed sites under a new name.

FreshCo will begin opening stores throughout the province this spring, giving shoppers a discounted grocery store experience.

All of this is part of an effort to restructure Empire Co., owner of Sobeys and its subsidiaries, FreshCo and Safeway. The company has been struggling since it bought Safeway in 2013.

Five FreshCo stores will open in the spring. Two will be in Richmond, two in Surrey and one in Mission.

All will fill the old Safeway facility, which closed many of its stores in the Continent in the summer of 2018.

Five additional Safeway sites will be closing in May for renovations, which could take up to five months. Everyone will reopen as FreshCos at a later date.

Empire says it is taking steps to ensure continuity in its pharmacy departments and to meet the collective bargaining agreements of employee unions.

But workers who are currently employed at Safeway's stores, which must be closed, may lose their jobs with the move, the union says.

Kate Milberry, from UFCW local 1518, says it's a concern and a disappointment.

"It's disappointing that these good family support jobs, union and salary at Safeway are not protected," says Milberry.

She notes, however, that workers have some options, although they may not be rehired for jobs at FreshCo. They can move to another branch of Safeway or receive compensation.

"Our members are also eligible for up to $ 65,000 in damages, depending on their seniority," she says. "We know some of our members will take that option."

She says that even with these options, it's a sad day for the Safeway workers.

"We believe all workers deserve a living wage," she says. "We believe that all workers deserve job security and know that our members are experts in the supermarket industry."

These will be FreshCo's first locations anywhere in British Columbia.

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