Sobeys has named 38 supermarkets that are closing across the country as the grocery giant trims costs to better compete against the likes of Walmart and Target Corp.
The same fate however looks poised to visit another dozen locations that have yet to be disclosed or perhaps even notified.
“These are the conversations we’ve had so far,” a spokeswoman for Sobeys said Friday regarding the 38 known locations, the bulk of which are in Western Canada.
The Nova Scotia-based grocery company said Thursday it is closing as many as 50 Sobeys, Safeway, IGA and other Sobeys-owned supermarkets that are losing money or not making enough of it to stay open.
A total of 15 locations are being shut down in Alberta, while notice has been given to half a dozen locations each in Manitoba, Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
Two Sobeys are being closed in Saskatchewan, while British Columbia and Quebec avoided much of the pain with one store shuttered in each respectively.
“These are the [stores] we’ve talked to,” Sobeys spokesperson Keri Scobie said. “We’ve certainly announced 50. The bulk of the conversations have happened.”
She declined to comment on the remaining stores yet to be named. Scobie also declined to comment on the number of jobs affected by the sweeping announcement.
While the widespread closures mean significant job losses, Scobie said Sobeys was moving some affected employees to new locations if possible.
“Our intention is, if we can move employees into new positions at other stores, that’s an ideal situation,” she said.
WATCH: The country’s second-biggest supermarket chain is shuttering dozens of stores. Tony Tighe reports.
Two other Sobeys locations in Ontario, meanwhile, in Hamilton and Cambridge, Ont., are being rebranded under the FreshCo banner, a flanker discount chain.
Yet amid the closures, Sobeys is opening up new stores under a new format the Nova Scotia-based grocery company hopes will keep customers coming back.
Scobie was busy Friday cutting the ribbon at a new supermarket in Edmonton — where four “underperforming” locations are being closed.
The new stores have new layouts, new products and a new approach under a“Better Food For All” marketing and branding vision — a strategy that includes a partnership with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
Joe Jackman, a Toronto-based retailing consultant, is one of the chief brains behind the new push having helped conceive it ahead of Sobeys’ blockbuster bid for Safeway last year.
“The good news story here is that it sets that business up for growth,” Jackman said.
Like every other grocer in the country, Sobeys is responding to a deeper push into the food retailing business from Walmart as well as the launch of another U.S. discount giant, Target, in Canada.
Both retail behemoths sell groceries while Walmart Canada is spending significantly to expand that side of its business, adding grocery aisles to many existing stores.