Sobeys cutting 1,300 jobs, adding warehouses

Job losses will affect mostly back-office functions, says Poulin

Sobeys expects to eliminate 1,300 jobs over the next year or two as it moves to open new distribution centres in Ontario and Alberta and continues to integrate Safeway Canada's operations.

The head of Sobeys parent company told analysts in a quarterly conference call Thursday that the jobs cuts will be implemented starting in late 2016 and will be primarily back-office functions.

Empire Co. president and CEO Marc Poulin says some of the jobs losses will be from closing of a support centre in Milton west of Toronto after a new automated distribution centre is opened in October 2016 in Vaughan to the north of Toronto.

Other jobs will be eliminated when a support centre in Calgary is closed, once an automated distribution centre in Rocky View, Alta., comes on line in mid-2017.

That warehouse is the former Target Canada facility, which Sobeys purchased in May for $50 million. When it re-opens the warehouse will distribute dry groceries to stores in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Changes to the Sobeys distribution system are part of ongoing expansion and reorganization of the national grocery chain.

Among other things, Sobeys is consolidating its presence in Western Canada after acquiring the Safeway chain in late 2013 and absorbing some of the Co-op Atlantic food and fuel retailing operations under an agreement that closed June 21.

Co-op Atlantic announced Thursday that it would lay off 400 employees and close four of its food stores in Moncton, N.B., Labrador City, N.L., Grand Bay-Westfield, N.B., and Charlottetown.

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