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Loblaw to invest in future-ready workers

The grocer will spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars to train its employees for changes in the work place

Technology will change the nature of work in the future at retailers like Loblaw Companies Ltd., so the company says it's investing not only in things like self-serve checkouts, but also retraining its workforce.

"Across the economy and our industry, artificial intelligence and automation will change the nature of the work that is done in our offices, in our distribution centres and in our stores,'' said president Sarah Davis during the company's annual meeting of shareholders in Toronto on Thursday.

In recent years, the company has boosted its technological offerings, adding self-service checkouts and electronic shelf labels in stores, as well as growing its e-commerce business.

In 2018, Loblaw vowed to blanket the country with online grocery offerings. Now, its click-and-collect service is available at 700 stores in Canada and home delivery is available to 65% of Canadians, she said.

This year, Davis added, will be about improving these services.

While the company is investing in these technologies, it is also "developing a future-ready workforce," said Davis.

Loblaw has created more than 1,000 roles in its digital business and launched online training programs several months ago that workers have accessed thousands of times, she said.

Loblaw is also planning to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the next five years in an effort to make workers ready for upcoming changes.

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