Canada's oldest Co-op shutters grocery store

Sussex Co-op Food Market closes amidst competition from major retailers
7/28/2015

Sussex Co-op Food Market, part of what is billed as the country's oldest agricultural society, closed its doors last Wednesday.

It was announced several weeks ago that the 22,000-sq.-ft. store would permanently shutter.

The supermarket's fixtures and stock have been liquidated, said general manager Rocky Price, but the Sussex and Studholm Agricultural Society #21, established in 1841, will continue to offer its members feed and seed and some hardware at other locations.

Competition appears to have proven the final nail in the grocery store's coffin.

“Our members would shop at Walmart and Sobeys,” explained Price. “We stayed fairly competitive, but the market was so price driven you can’t compete at every level at every item every day.”

It was only two years ago that Sussex Co-op's grocery store was relocated from its 5,500-sq.-ft. premises downtown to new location four times the size in an area mall. Price said there were no regrets now with the decision to move and expand.

“The membership said it was what they wanted,” said Price.

Price said Sobeys and other retailers have offered some Food Market employees jobs at their stores.

The Sussex Co-op is part of Moncton, N.B.-based Co-op Atlantic, which more than a month ago sold its gas and grocery business to Sobeys for $24.5 million.

In late June Co-op Atlantic filed for bankruptcy protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. At the same time it laid off 400 people and closed four of its corporately run grocery stores in Moncton, Labrador City, N.L., Grand Bay-Westfield, N.B., and Charlottetown.

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