Possible layoffs as Calgary Safeway set to close in December

Possible layoffs as Calgary Safeway set to close in December
WATCH ABOVE: It’s an uncertain time for employees at a Calgary Safeway store. More than 100 employees at a northeast location are shocked by the sudden announcement that the store will shutdown in December. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, it's all part of a bad economy and a company takeover.

The Calgary Safeway store in the Trans Canada Centre will be closing on Dec. 10 and 112 employees are affected.

Most employees were given the bad news on Wednesday, that the store  on 52 Street near 16 Avenue N.E. will be shutting down.

Keri Scobie, the Western Canada director of communications for Sobeys, said this action is not part of the store closures which were announced in 2014.

“Although a difficult decision to make, given the impact on customers and employees, it is part of regular course of business to review our store network to make sure we have the right store formats in the right markets. This store had been under-performing for quite some time and was no longer financially viable to keep operating.  This was a strategic business decision and puts us in a better position for success in a very competitive market,” Scobie said in a statement sent to Global News on Sunday.

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It’s not the news shoppers wanted to hear, as they loaded their groceries at the Safeway Sunday morning.

Seniors who regularly walk across the street to the Safeway were furious.

“Isn’t that disgusting,” Evelyn Currie said. “That’s why I bought this place, so I was close, because I’m older and all us older people go over there and shop continually. And it’s busy all the time.”

Shoppers who live in Marlborough Park within walking distance of the Safeway said this will be hard on people who don’t have a vehicle.

“The closest store is Co-op on 68 and the Sobeys on 17, so what happens to all those people who don’t drive? We are out of luck now, so there’s got to be a way we can save it,” Monique Charlton said.

It’s not clear how many people will be transferred or laid off as a result of the closure.

Safeway staff, who didn’t want to give their names, said they were “surprised” and “heartbroken”.

“We are currently working with employees and the union within the terms of the collective agreement,” Scobie said. “We appreciate the loyalty and support of our customers and employees over the years. “

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Longtime shopper Monique Charlton says she feels terrible for staff who she says are like family to her.  She is disappointed the company will be closing the store just 15 days before Christmas.

“Some of them found out today and some of them are just terrified. They may find jobs in different places. They said they would get moved but moved where? And what happens now? What happens to the ones that don’t get moved,” Charlton said. “At least let us get all of our Christmas done. It’s a hard enough season already for everybody else and now you’re adding that to it. That’s not cool.”

Two-years ago, Sobeys announced they would close around 50 under-performing stores across Canada, following its $5.8 billion acquisition of Safeway. Five Calgary stores were affected.  The Trans Canada Centre Safeway was not one of those targeted in 2014.

READ MORE: Calgary shoppers dismayed by Sobeys store closures

Nova Scotia based Empire Co. Ltd., which is the parent of the Sobey’s chain, reported a fourth quarter net loss of $942.6 million earlier this year, in large part due to the takeover of Safeway.